Stories tagged sperm

Folks, this is exciting news! Reproductive biologists think they've found the secret that makes sperm move - specifically, how this male reproductive cell knows when to begin swimming toward the female egg. For those of you who slept through biology class or had teachers that couldn't divulge the gritty details, let's just say that sexual reproduction is a lot more complicated than most of us realize (hint: it doesn't involve a stork, unless you happen to be a stork). Thankfully, some researchers at the University of California have found a way to study the inner workings of human sperm cells, discovering how differences in pH between male and female bodies triggers a chain reaction that gets sperm going. Why does this matter? By understanding how male reproductive cells work, scientists might be able to better address problems of infertility, or design new forms of contraception. While the researchers involved in this study admit that a male birth control pill probably isn't going to appear anytime soon, this discovery does point to new possibilities.


Running on empty: photo by corypina on
Running on empty: photo by corypina on
Citing concern over Creutzfeldt-Jakob, or Mad Cow, disease spreading from northern Europe, the U.S. has imposed a blanket ban on all sperm imports from countries exposed to the disease. "We still have a little bit left, but not much," said Claus Rodgaard, manager of a Danish-based sperm bank with offices in the U.S.

Some blame faulty policy for the shortage. There is no evidence that Mad Cow disease can be transmitted by sperm, but government authorities insist on maintaining the ban.

The shortage has only highlighted our country’s already much-discussed reliance on foreign sperm. Scientists are hard at work developing a domestically produced alternative, but even the most optimistic estimates place the release of such a substitute decades into the future. A handful of prominent politicians have proposed looking to Alaska, which is reputed to have significant sperm reserves, although some argue that the process of tapping this source would place too much of a strain on the local wildlife.

For the time being, officials are urging the public to adopt many of the same conservation measures developed during the sperm shortage of the 1970s, and the national Ad Council is already planning a relaunch of its controversial “Got Gametes?” campaign.