Sunday, October 10, 2010

more on tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) and male fertility

In my recent post on my husband's fertility issues, I wrote about our discovery that he has extremely low levels of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), and my research that indicated that may be behind his sperm issues, due to the high level of superoxidants created.

This morning I found even more interesting information this topic.  Reading over breakfast an issue of Wired Magazine from a few months ago, found this article on the chemistry behind sex (such a typical Wired article!)  It mentioned how nitric oxide causes erections.  Wait, nitric oxide -- according to that article I found the other day, lack of BH4 causes lack of nitric oxide, since BH4 is a cofactor for its synthesis.  So perhaps the BH4 issue s related to the issues with impotence that my husband sometimes experiences.

Indeed, a quick google search revealed a study showing the positive effect of BH4 supplementation on the ability to have an erection.  Evidently BH4 has also been shown to help prevent testicular damage in mice, so BH4 is viewed by those researchers as a possible "new therapeutic intervention for heat stress-based testicular dysfunction."  Wow.  At the beginning of our infertility journey, the docs were speculating that his sperm problems were related to heavy sauna and hot tub use -- could it be possible that he experienced worse effects from those than other people did, due to his low BH4?  Also, perhaps the lack of BH4 was causing him to have more bad impact from the variocecle than other people might?  (indeed, the doctor who performed his operation noted in his examination this summer that his testicles were a bit soft)

Interestingly, one supplement often recommended for male fertility enhancement, pycogenol, also helps with nitric oxide production, according to this page (scroll down for the study cite).

Very interesting.  So I'm really thinking that adding the BH4 will be helpful.  Let's hope!

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