Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)

Definition - What does Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) mean?

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are molecules produced by exposure to environmental pollutants or during normal cell metabolism. They are unstable molecules that easily react with surrounding structures. When ROS are found in low levels they act as cell signaling molecules however, when found in large quantities, their unstable nature causes them to react with surrounding structures including DNA and cell proteins. These reactions are damaging to cell function and may cause impaired function or cell death. ROS may affect male fertility as they react with sperm.

FertilitySmarts explains Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)

ROS cause problems with male fertility when found in high quantities in semen. They may react with sperm and decrease sperm quality by decreasing movement (motility), shape (morphology), and the ability of the sperm to effectively fertilize an egg. These negative effects on sperm can affect the ability of a couple to achieve spontaneous conception and well as the probability of successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Measuring ROS levels in semen samples before IVF may be useful in predicting the chances of success for IVF. Decreasing ROS by avoiding environmental pollutants and increasing the levels of antioxidants in the body through diet and lifestyle choices may improve the probability of successful conception.

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