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Male Infertility: It Could Be In Your Genes

Doctors have discovered a gene that correlates to infertility rates in men and could potentially open doors for new therapies.

May 15, 2020
Anita Parrott

Being faced with male infertility or the discovery of having a low sperm count is a difficult reality to grasp, but that reality is made even more difficult without knowing its origin. The percentage of men lacking a diagnosis for their infertility is anywhere from 40 to 72 percent, and 50 percent of these cases are estimated to be a result of genetics. Scientific discoveries about infertility continue to surface, and developments with the SYCP2 gene are only a reflection of that. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at: 

  • What is the SYCP2 Gene?
  • What Does Its Discovery Mean For The Future of Male Infertility Diagnoses?
A researcher examining male genetic makeup through a microscope.
Professionals are starting to push for males with reproductive risk factors to consult male reproductive specialists for screenings as well as in couples where female corrections have been made yet they continue to have unexplained fertility problems. 

What Is the SYCP2 Gene?

The possible cause for male infertility 

Men’s overall sperm count has been on a general decline in recent years, and five to seven percent of men continue to struggle with infertility. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have found that some genetic abnormalities concerning the SYCP2 gene attribute to low sperm count or infertility in a study done on four infertile men. 

These abnormalities involved a rearrangement in chromosomes that caused the SYCP2 gene’s activity to increase to 20 times its normal amount. The results of the study have spurred a push for consideration of the gene when looking for the cause of recurrent miscarriages in a partnership as well as the cause for low sperm count or infertility in men.

A man looks out over a river, and thinks about his infertility.
“A diagnosis can be therapeutic in itself-- even if there isn’t something that can be done to correct it. It ends the search for the underlying issue and opens the door for enrolling in clinical trials” - Dr. Cynthia Morton

What Does Its Discovery Mean For The Future of Male Infertility Diagnoses?

Further testing, and possible treatment

Right now, testing for male infertility follows a strategic approach with various steps assessing the following of a man in an infertile relationship:

  • His sexual, medical, and/or lifestyle history
  • His physical health
  • His semen, hormones, and genetics

An assessment for the SYCP2 gene may make this process more simple. If doctors can use this gene to determine and diagnose infertility in men, then more people facing unanswered complications with pregnancies will receive the necessary information to move forward. Additionally, confirmation of the link between SYCP2 function and infertility could open the possibility of discovering new treatment options to help men struggling with infertility. 


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