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What You Need To Know About Sperm Metabolism

Scientists have discovered a correlation between sperm metabolism and its performance in fertilization.

June 1, 2020
Anita Parrott

Main photo courtesy of Extend Fertility.

One couple out of every ten have been affected by infertility in some form or fashion. A common problem that these couples face is the lack of and explanation for their infertility. Sperm purification processes like the “swim-up” method are a step in the in vitro sperm selection process. This process consists of taking the sperm cells in the upper fraction of the sample that are the most mobile, or capable of movement, and using them in the fertilization of the egg. Professionals have since found that sperm with a certain metabolic rate, motility, and sperm tail length are more likely to be in the upper half of overall sperm performance. 

In this article we’re going to discuss:

  • Qualities In Sperm Metabolism That Influence Success
  • How Will These Findings Impact The Future of In Vitro Fertilization?
A sperm researcher inspects samples.
Being able to identify certain traits in sperms with a higher chance of being successful could open the door for a world of fertilization possibilities in the future.  

Qualities In Sperm Metabolism That Influence Success

What makes the upper half of sperms more motile?

In a study done on bull sperm, biologists from TU Dresden found a relationship between sperm’s metabolism and their ability to swim, or their motility. They studied the samples by using video to determine which sperm were more capable of movement. Then they separated the sperm within the samples in half into groups of high performing sperm and low performing ones. Proceeding to conduct testing, they realized that the sperm with the best performance had a higher oxygen consumption rate (OCR) than those that were less motile. The sperm with a high OCR, also have a smaller amount of stored energy because they consume more of it than their less motile counterparts. 

A couple looks out over a scenic view of the mountains, while contemplating their fertility journey.
While this study hasn’t yet been done on human sperm there may be some substantial time until you see these findings at play in your everyday life, or on your pregnancy journey.  

How Will These Findings Impact The Future of In Vitro Fertilization?

Is there a chance for higher success rates?

These findings are the first of their kind to provide a sound metabolic explanation about sperm performance. Although the study was done on bovine mammals, findings of this kind offer a concrete foundation to build upon in the examination of the creation of life. This information could revolutionize fertilization tactics, and help many infertile couples have a higher success rate when using in vitro fertilization. 

It’s exciting to consider what this means in the future, but this research also means that levels of OCR can be used to explain infertility in couples that may have never received a diagnosis or reasoning. The potential for development and application of these findings, could reshape what we know about fertility all together and present a strand of therapies or treatments in the future to expand the number of motile sperm in a sample and present couples with a higher potential success rate. 


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