British scientists have gained fresh insight into the causes of male infertility that promise to provide new treatments for couples struggling to have children. Male fertility has been largely overlooked until recently with most treatments requiring women to take medication or undergo expensive and invasive procedures. Up to half of the problems suffered by couples trying to conceive, however, are due to the man's fertility.
Gel can supercharge sperm
Now research into a key aspect of male fertility - how sperm cells swim - has enabled scientists at the University of Birmingham to identify potential new treatments that can "supercharge" men's reproductive cells.
The scientists have discovered chemical compounds that increase the swimming ability of sperm cells and they believe this can help to boost the number of cells capable of reaching a woman's egg.
They are now using the compounds to develop a new gel they hope will increase the chance of couples conceiving naturally without the need for expensive treatments such as IVF.
Help to men makes fertility treatmens cheaper
Dr Jackson Kirkman-Brown, a senior lecturer in reproductive biology at the University of Birmingham and director of the Centre for Human Reproductive Science in Birmingham, said:
- Fertility treatments basically involve helping sperm to reach the egg. The majority of these involve doing something quite invasive to the woman, often even though she may be perfectly healthy. If you can give the man's sperm a little more va-va-voom, you could help fertility in a far less invasive way and it would be far cheaper.