Omega-3 boosts sexual performance in rats impacted by environmental pollutant

By Claudia Adrien

- Last updated on GMT

Rats exposed to an environmental pollutant but then given Omega 3 fatty acid were able to regain full sexual function. @ fotografixx/Getty Images
Rats exposed to an environmental pollutant but then given Omega 3 fatty acid were able to regain full sexual function. @ fotografixx/Getty Images

Related tags omega 3 fatty acids sexual enhancement Bisphenol F

Omega-3 fatty acids may mitigate the effects that Bisphenol F (BPF), an environmental pollutant, has on sexual function, according to research published in Nature's Scientific Reports.

Male sexual function consists of many aspects, such as sexual desire/libido, erection of the penis and sexual activities (vagina penetration and ejaculation).

“Maintaining optimal male sexual function depends on coordinating the various body systems, such as the nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular and reproductive systems,” the researchers wrote. “Once any of the systems mentioned above or the physiological components are disrupted, normal male sexual function quality will also be affected.”

They added: “This study was designed to probe the impact of BPF on sexual dysfunction and pregnancy outcomes by exploring the mechanism underlying male sexual function.”

Several allopathic drugs to treat sexual dysfunction also come with downsides. Researchers are intensifying their efforts to find a natural supplement such as Omega-3 fatty acids (O3FA) with fewer side effects that is also readily available and affordable.

Motivation to mate

One hundred and twenty rats (sixty males and sixty females) of similar weights were randomized into six groups: corn oil-treated, O3FA low and high dose (100 and 300 mg/kg), BPF-treated, BPF + O3FA low and BPF + O3FA high dose.

O3FA was procured from Gujarat Liqui Pharmacaps Pvt. Ltd, India, and each O3FA capsule contained eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the ratio of 3:2.

The scientists administered BPF and O3FA once daily for twenty-eight days. Administering the substances orally was to imitate the prominent human way of exposure. 

To evaluate sexual performance, the researchers induced “heat” by the subcutaneous administration of estradiol benzoate and progesterone forty-eight and four hours, respectively, prior to copulation.

One male animal was placed per cage before introducing a sexually receptive female rat. Under dim light for 30 minutes, researchers assessed sexual performance using a camcorder. They recorded mount frequency, mount latency, motivation to mate, intromission latency, intromission frequency, ejaculation frequency, post-ejaculatory interval and ejaculation latency.

Fertility success was determined as the number of female rats that are pregnant divided by the number of paired rats multiplied by 100.

“O3FA improved libido, sexual potency and erection efficiency following BPF exposure,” the researchers wrote. “Furthermore, O3FA improved ejaculatory reflex stimulation, an important indicator of sexual dysfunction, by decreasing BPF-induced prolonged ejaculation latency.”

In contrast, BPF significantly impaired male sexual competence. BPF-treated rats experienced a reduction in motivation to mate, prolonged mount, intromission and ejaculation latency.

Also, BPF caused a decrease in gonadotropin releasing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone, nitric oxide (NO) cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD), 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD), dopamine and acetylcholine esterase. Moreover, it led to a significant increase in prolactin and estrogen and poor pregnancy outcomes. However, administration of O3FA abolished all these BPF-led alterations.

Ubiquitous pollutant

Bisphenol analogs such as bisphenol A (BPA), bisphenol F (BPF) and bisphenol S (BPS) are classified as environmental pollutants or endocrine disruptors. These compounds are used extensively in the chemical, food and pharmaceutical industries.

“It has been established that BPA, the bisphenol compound used the most frequently, is involved in the emergence of numerous human diseases, including male sexual dysfunction. Because of this, the use of BPA has been severely limited since 2010,” the researchers wrote.

The industry began making widespread use of BPF, which serves as a significant alternative to BPA. The presence of BPF in the environment is beginning to emerge as its use continues to increase. BPF is found in several locations in the environment, including indoor dust and water, in addition to being found in food, feeding bottles, cosmetics and medical devices.

“In a review of numerous food items in the United States, BPF was shown to be the second most prevalent analog present in beverages, dairy products, fats and oils, fish and shellfish, meat, cereals, fruits and vegetables,” the researchers explained. “Oral route is the major route of exposure to BPF, but other routes include dermal and inhalation. Despite the continuous usage of BPF, there is little information on its effect on male sexual performance.”

Source: Scientific Reports
13​, 18060, doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-45344-4​ 
"Omega 3 fatty acid improves sexual and erectile function in BPF-treated rats by upregulating NO/cGMP signaling and steroidogenic enzymes activities"
Authors: A.F. Odetayo and L.A. Olayaki

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