Tuesday, October 5, 2010

unravelling the mystery of my husband's sperm

Time for an update on my husband's sperm, first since the last one 9 months ago.

We continued with the vitamin program from Foresight (the hair analysis people in the U.K., and I also got him to do an intensive course with a new acupuncturist, all to no avail -- sperm parameters still terrible, plus we did a test of DNA fragmentation in his sperm which came out at a really terrible 52% (under 15% is normal).  That means at least 52% of all his sperm are completely defective, and the DNA fragmentation is independent of the things they normally look at like motility and morphology, so even if through ICSI they select the best looking ones, fifty fifty it's still a crappy one.  (If you're interested in this topic, more information here.)

So we decided on further attack, from both ends of the spectrum. On the natural side, my husband went to see a holistic MD, who gave him a very heavy supplement regimen (even more than the Foresight people).  And he also went to see a famous sperm expert in L.A., who despite various opinions from different doctors about whether or not my husband had a variococle, said that indeed he did.  He suggested testicular extraction to get to better sperm in the short term, and a variococle repair operation, which we recently did.  He said the variococle was larger than he had expected.  So that seemed like enough explanation for the poor sperm quality.
We thought that would be that, just wait a few months and his sperm would be fine. But then just yesterday got some other distressing news.  

You may recall from the last installment in the saga that  my husband had had a comprehensive urine profile from Metametrix done a year and a half ago.  One of the things on that was a high level on oxidative stress, which tipped us off to look at his heavy metals.  And another was very poor levels of neurotransmitters, which my husband never got around to addressing.  After a particularly egregious instance of lack of togetherness this summer, I put my foot down and told my husband he had to do something about his neurotransmitter problem, because his absentmindedness is driving me crazy.  So he agreed to redo the Metametrix Organix Comprehensive Profile, back with the BioSet practitioner who had done the first one.  On a hunch, she also threw in the Neopterin/Biopterin Profile, which she says that she often uses on her ADHD patients.

Unsurprisingly, the second panel showed abnormally low levels of Biopterin, which is a cofactor for the enzymes that create neurotransmitters. The practitioner said that most likely my husband genetically is unable to create sufficient tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4).  So, I was not crazy when I thought my husband's behavior was not normal -- indeed something has been significantly amiss. 
Fortunately, it's possible to get a BH4 supplement.

However, the bad news, the oxidative damage marker (8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine) had gotten even higher, it's at the top of the chart!  How could this be, when we have been detoxing him from the heavy metals for a year and half, and he is taking a zillion antioxidants? Aaaargh!

In fact, 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine appears to be the measure of choice for looking at oxidative stress on sperm. See this, this and this study for example.  I just can't imagine that he could produce decent sperm with that high level of oxidative stress.   Yes we have removed the overcooking factor of the variococle, and the negative impact of the heavy metals, but this amount of oxidative stress seeems likely to all by itself to be able to do a number on the sperm.

So I spent half a day tearing my hair out, thinking of all the further time we could waste trying to figure out what is going on. Then, luckily, I stumbled upon this articleIt shows that low levels of BH4 lead to creation of a super oxidant in the body!  And also problems with l-Carnitine metabolism.  So that could possibly explain why his oxidative stress is so high, and also why the big doses of l-Carnitine he is taking don’t seem to be helping.  Wow, that would make a lot of sense-wouldn’t it? And would explain the high oxidative stress mystery.

So we have ordered the BH4 supplement, are upping his vitamin C to 6 grams a day in a liposomal form, and also giving him one Methyl-Guard per day (the specific type of folate and the B's in this supplement are mentioned to be helpful in that same article).  Am crossing my fingers that these measures, in addition to the variococle procedure, will make the difference for his sperm -- finally!

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