Happy Endings: Millions of Sperm Tell an Interesting Tail

21 November 2019 SYDNEY: Australian scientists have conducted one of the largest studies into male factor infertility, reviewing more than 40,000* semen tests to discover that men do have a biological clock but the lucky lads have much more time on their hands than women. The study also put to bed another common misconception, that if a couple are struggling to conceive, it’s likely to be a problem with the female.

Millions of sperm were involved in the study with results indicating that fertility decline in men only really commences in their mid-40s but even then, it’s not until over 55 that semen analysis results really start to deteriorate.

Dr Derek Lok said, “there have been numerous studies looking at the impact of female age on the chance of conception but very few on the effect of male age. Women are very aware that their chance of conception declines sharply at 35, but what this study shows is that men’s procreating years are a lot longer.” He added, “while women are born with a limited supply of eggs, men produce sperm throughout their lives.”

Scientists studied semen tests performed at Genea over a ten-year period, between April 2009 to April 2019, reviewing the total sperm count, sperm motility and DNA fragmentation, important parameters when depicting a male patient’s chance of conception.

“The number of sperm in an ejaculate and their mobility is essential but DNA fragmentation is also particularly important. It reflects the quality of the chromosomes in the head of the sperm. Generally as men get older the sperm DNA can become more fragmented, which can lead to lower conception rates and higher miscarriage risks. Over 55, this fragmentation becomes very pronounced,” said Dr Lok.

For the couples that do struggle to fall pregnant it is also a common misconception that there is an issue with the woman’s reproductive system. In about 40% of cases where couples have trouble conceiving, the problem lies with the man, and the quality or quantity of sperm.

Mark Hogan has recently become a new Dad to baby Piper after being diagnosed with a low sperm count three years ago, “whilst I am not an older father I welcome the opportunity to talk about male factor infertility. It’s such a taboo in our society. I was shocked when I discovered I had very little sperm in my ejaculate,” Mr Hogan encourages men to discuss fertility more, “you feel like you are the only one with poor swimmers but the truth is, if you’re not conceiving, men are just as likely to be the contributing factor.”

The study has been peer reviewed with results shared at the Fertility Society of Australia conference in Hobart, in September 2019.

*40,422 semen tests were assessed
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Meline Walton
Media & Communications Manager
M +61 452 433 369
E meline.walton@genea.com.au
About Genea
Genea is one of Australia’s leading providers for infertility, IVF and other assisted conception treatment with 33 years of experience in the field. The company has long been a fertility pioneer, with research and technologies developed in-house virtually doubling IVF success rates in the mid-nineties and continuing to improve outcomes today. In July 2018, Genea was the highest ranked healthcare provider named on Australian Financial Review’s Top 100 Most Innovative Companies List, ranked number 18.

Genea’s sister company, Genea Biomedx creates and manufactures practical, accessible and precise fertility technologies that help standardise and automate fertility treatment. Its unique relationship with Genea Fertility means that Genea Biomedx is a manufacturer that truly understands the customers’ perspective. As a result, Genea Biomedx has developed the world’s first automated vitrification instrument and has created a world leading benchtop incubator with timelapse functionality.

About Gavi, Geri, Gems and Gidget
  • Gavi – the world’s first automated vitrification instrument; Vitrification is a process used in IVF to preserve human egg cells (oocytes) or embryos by cooling them to deep sub-zero degrees. Approaching the process in an innovative way, Gavi uses an automated, standardized protocol aiming to provide consistent results in blastocyst vitrification.G
  • Geri - a benchtop incubator with individually controlled incubation chambers per patient to minimize disruptive events to the early-stage embryo. It also incorporates a camera for continuous monitoring of embryos as they develop.
  • Gems - the latest generation of Genea’s culture media for embryo cultivation.
  • Gidget - an innovative witnessing and tracking system that provides electronic witnessing, lab workflow management and support for traceability and audit reporting.