London, April 15 (IANS) Scientists have discovered chemical compounds that boost the swimming ability of sperm cells, opening the way for a new gel to help couples conceive naturally.
Male fertility has been largely overlooked with most treatments requiring women to take medication or undergo expensive and invasive procedures.
"Fertility treatments basically involve helping sperm to reach the egg," said Jackson Kirkman-Brown, senior lecturer in reproductive biology at the University of Birmingham and director of the Centre for Human Reproductive Science, Birmingham.
"The majority of these involve doing something quite invasive to the woman, often even though she may be perfectly healthy. If you can give the man's sperm a little more va-va-voom, you could help fertility in a far less invasive way and it would be far cheaper," he said.
"We now have some compounds, that are in the early stages of testing, which can make more sperm swim through cervical mucus, which means you would get more sperm into the uterus. This should increase natural fertility," added Kirkman-Brown, according to the Telegraph.
Current fertility treatments such as IVF cost thousands of pounds while requiring the woman to take powerful medication and undergo invasive procedures to extract and implant eggs.
Yet only a third of all fertility problems suffered by couples are due to women - the rest lie with the male partner or an unknown cause. There have also been some recent concerns that male infertility is increasing as studies have shown that up to a quarter of young men have poor quality semen.
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