Male infertility may arise from lack of communication between the testis and the epididymis and new research has uncovered a mechanism of this communication.

Sperm are produced in the seminiferous tubules of the testis and move through the epididymis, a long, convoluted tube linked to the vas deferens, the duct that moves sperm from the testicle to the urethra. When the sperm enter the epididymis, they are not motile and are incapable of fertilization. However, in their passage through the epididymis, the sperm are provided an appropriate environment for maturation and storage pending ejaculation.

Scientists have discovered a complicated cascade of events in which disruption of any point in this lumicrine pathway causes a male to be infertile. Their findings have important translational implications for diagnostic and therapeutic research in male infertility and male contraceptive development. This unique transluminal communication pathway between tissues and organs likely functions elsewhere in our bodies.

Researchers have discovered a novel testicular luminal protein, NELL2, that triggers in the epididymis a chain of events that matures the sperm and enables each one to be motile in females.

Semen analysis is the cornerstone of the laboratory evaluation of the infertile male. All patients should be instructed to abstain from sexual activity for 2 to 3 days before for semen collection. The specimen may be collected at home or in the laboratory. It may be collected by masturbation or by intercourse using special semen collection condoms that do not contain substances, such as latex rubber, that are detrimental to sperm. The semen specimen should be kept at room or body temperature and examined within 1 hour of collection.

At IVF Phoenix™ I have directed my Lab to test sperm at 4 hours and again at 20 hours as I am interested in the long-term status and survival of a semen sample particularly for cycles of superovulation and IUI. This additional piece offers us more about potential issues with male infertility.

To healthy sperm!
Dr C