• Marie Otsuka

Coming soon: A faster, more effective male fertility test that minimises uncertainty


Traditionally, men who want to undergo fertility tests have to wait for quite some time before they get answers. These men have to submit their sperm samples for analysis, and because a single sample is rarely representative of a man's average semen characteristics, doctors usually order for several sperm samples to be collected over a few months. This way, the analysis typically produces more accurate results.

But all that has changed - researchers led by the Washington State University have recently discovered differences in the molecular structure of the sperm in infertile men, and they say that this could “pave the way” for a male fertility test that’s more immediate and accurate.

Sperm DNA of fertile men vs infertile men do not look alike

In their study, the researchers analysed the sperm DNA of both fertile and infertile men, and found that infertile men possessed a specific biomarker (a naturally occurring molecule, gene, or characteristic by which a particular pathological or physiological process can be identified) that fertile men did not.

On top of that, the researchers also identified a separate biomarker that could indicate whether an individual would respond well to Hormone Therapy Treatment, which is used to treat patients whose infertility is caused by a lack of testosterone. Their findings have since been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Look forward to a faster, more effective fertility test for men

Following their success, the researchers are now moving forward with a larger clinical trial that will potentially help them pioneer a test that predicts a man’s fertility based on the absence of presence of this biomarker.

Professor Michael Skinner, a reproductive biologist at Washington State University, noted that having a diagnostic that could immediately tell you that your patient is infertile, and present you with the treatment options that would work for him, would be “immensely useful”.

He also went on to mention that his team is also looking into investigating a “similar diagnostic” for determining how patients with arthritis and neurodegenerative diseases such as autism will respond to different treatments.

As Professor Skinner says, in the area of therapeutics where many of the drugs on the market only work for “a fraction of patients”, this could save patients both time and money, and also facilitate much better healthcare management.

What factors affect fertility in men?

What factors result in lower fertility in men? What foods should men consume in other to boost their fertility and increase the quality of their sperm? Read our articles to find out more:

- Abstinence & fertility: the longer men abstain from sex, the poorer their sperm quality

- The verdict is in: wearing tight underwear is a no-no for men’s fertility

- 50% drop in sperm counts of men around the globe: could you be at risk?

- Increase sperm count naturally with these 6 power-packed foods


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