Male factor is the cause for about 1/3 of infertility. However, the role of male- cause infertility is in the rise and many researches has confirmed this fact. Nevertheless, male partner is often the “forgotten” partner in the equation of fertility treatment. The focus has always been the female. Hence, we see today many investigations and treatments are focused on the female.
To conceive a baby, we need female egg (oocyte), male sperm and a healthy womb (uterus). In the treatment of male-cause infertility, sperm is usually retrieved either my masturbation (in mild -moderate male infertility) or by a surgical procedure (in severe male infertility). In the event the sperm in not retrieved, donor sperm is advised. The next step is usually IVF/ICSI (In-Vitro Fertilisation / Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) or sometimes IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) with donor sperm. Treatment for the couple is highly dependent on the availability of mature sperm, either from the partner or from a donor.
A recent breakthrough research may change all that in near future. The researchers has managed to grow mature sperm from immature sperm cells known as spermatogonial cells. Spermatogonial cells are present in all males , including pre-pubertal boys. They successfully cultured spermatogonial cells into mature sperm cells in the lab.
This technique means that in near future, male infertility treatment is not dependent on obtaining mature sperms from the male partner. In severe male infertility where sperm is not retrieved via a standard surgical procedure, their precursor cells (spermatogonial cells) can be used instead to ‘make’ mature sperm in the lab. The other benefactor of this finding would be the field of male fertility preservation, where spermatogonial cells from a very young cancer patients can be used to make mature sperms and frozen for future fertility.
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