Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Medical notes 
Background Briefings 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Monday, 28 February, 2000, 01:25 GMT
Sperm boost may aid fertility

Adding the chemicals could make semen more fertile
Adding three naturally-occurring chemicals to semen could help defective sperm fertilise an egg, according to experts.

The latest research project has discovered that a combination of the two helps sperm "switch on" - become ready to break through the membrane surrounding the egg.

This "switching on" process is known as capacitation.

They also prevent a reaction which can make the sperm infertile before it reaches the egg.

Adding chemicals to try to improve sperm performance is no novelty. Caffeine is among the substances put into semen to liven them up.

This is thought to be the first such treatment for problems with capacitation, as opposed to "motility", the ability of the sperm to move.

The combination was discovered at King's College and Queen Mary and Westfield Colleges in London.

All three are already found in semen, but the researchers, led by Professor Lynn Fraser, simply increased their quantities.

ICSI treatment

It has two possible applications - either to be added to the liquid used as the site for egg fertilisation in IVF treatments, or to improve the chances of successful insemination using sperm from men with low sperm counts, or defective sperm.

Most men in this situation are offered a technique in which a single sperm is taken and injected directly into the egg - this is called ICSI.

Professor Ian Craft, from the London Fertility Centre, described it as an "interesting idea", but suggested it would only be useful in borderline cases.

"It may improve the performance of sperm so that ICSI is not necessary," he said.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

02 Jan 00 |  Health
Hope for infertile men
20 Dec 99 |  Health
Fight for dead man's sperm
29 Dec 99 |  Health
Cat link to male fertility
13 Sep 99 |  Health
Ignorance over male infertility
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to top Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories