This discovery will open up important areas of research in the treatment of infertility.

Researchers have recently discovered that human oocytes release chemicals that tend to attract more sperm, thereby affecting the chances of fertilization.



John Fitzpatrick

While we invest a great deal of time and energy in finding the ideal partner, research recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B magazine shows that a selection process beyond our control is involved in reproduction. A team of researchers from the University of Stockholm has demonstrated the ability of the human egg to select sperm from a particular sperm, which is “a first for humans and any other species with internal fertilization,” according to John Fitzpatrick, lead author of the study.

In this new work, Fitzpatrick and colleagues studied the response of male gametes to follicular fluid, a nutrient-rich substance surrounding the oocyte that must be passed through by sperm to reach it. To do this, they analyzed samples from 16 couples undergoing medical follow-up for infertility problems.

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It was found that the chemoattractants contained in the follicular fluid of the different oocytes induced a variable attraction of the spermatozoa depending on the semen to which they were exposed. In other words: the interactions between oocytes and spermatozoa depend on both the woman and the man involved in sexual intercourse, which came as a “real surprise” to the team.

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“The fact that oocytes can attract about 18% more sperm for some sperm would probably have a major influence in conventional fertilization since only a small fraction of the sperm reach the egg after intercourse,” says Fitzpatrick.

Contrary to what one might think, it has also been shown that a woman’s oocytes do not necessarily attract her partner’s sperm better, implying that fertility is not conditioned by her attraction to a man.

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“It’s possible that oocytes may be more attractive to better quality or genetically compatible sperm, which could increase the chances of their being fertilized,” he adds. “Chemical interactions between eggs and sperm after intercourse may also play a role in some people’s difficulties in conceiving. Knowing that for one in three couples with fertility problems, there is no clear cause. »

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According to the authors of the study, these new findings offer a better understanding of human fertility, which should lead to a better understanding of the causes of infertility around the world.

Source : New Scientist

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