There is nothing more dreaded by a couple struggling to have a baby than the word infertility. For some couples, this means that they will need to use the help of science to do what so many others are able to do naturally. Unfortunately, for too many couples, this could be the end of their dreams of conception, because in-vitro fertilization and other standard fertility treatments are quite expensive and can be cost prohibitive for many families. Still, scientists are making research strides every day to come up with easier, cheaper and less-invasive solutions to the problem that plagues so many. Learn more about the breakthrough new research that has scientists feeling hopeful that a new treatment is just around the corner and learn about some preventative measures all men should be taking to maintain penis health and protect their fertility today.
Sperm cells from skin?
That’s right; though it sounds like something straight out of a science fiction novel, it is true that scientists have recently found a way to make human sperm out of the skin cells of a donor. Cell Reports, a scholarly journal, reported that scientists have been able to successfully extract skin cells from infertile men and manipulate them into what is known as “induced pluripotent stem cells,” which have similar properties to human embryonic stem cells. Stem cells are currently being fiercely researched in many scientific fields; they are able to transform into any type of cell in the body, giving them potentially life-saving powers. In the research conducted with the created stem cells, the cells were inserted into mouse testicles and eventually became immature human sperm cells. The next step in this line of research, of course, is to see whether the sperm created would actually be able to fertilize a human egg. Such a thing would likely be years in the future, but the research indicates it may be possible.
Of course, being able to create sperm, and therefore babies, out of skin cells or other human tissue is a matter of tremendous controversy, raising moral and ethical questions such as how to keep the technology in check. Hypothetically, an individual might be able to steal another person’s DNA via a stray hair or swab of skin and have it turned into sperm in a rogue laboratory. Said individual could then sell the sperm or impregnate themselves without the consent of the actual owner of the sperm. Imagine a hairdresser who plucks a piece of Brad Pitt’s hair from his hairbrush – will there someday be a celebrity sperm black market?
Protecting Male Fertility
Men hoping to stay fertile for many years to come – or those who have already been informed of a dipping sperm count – would be wise to protect their fertility in any way they can. A few quick and easy changes can protect or even boost male fertility:
1) Keeping the boys below the belt at the optimal temperature is important to maintaining a healthy, high sperm count. So, choose boxers over briefs when possible, avoid those hot tubs and saunas, and ditch the skinny jeans.
2) Stopping smoking is another excellent way to improve sperm count – though it may be easier said than done for the 2-pack a day smoker – but research has shown that men who smoke have chronically lower sperm count.
3) Finally, always using a condom during sex is vitally important to male sexual health, as unprotected sex increases ones risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. These can be linked to poor sperm production and even scarring of the male genital tract, which hinders sperm release.
In addition, all men –whether fertility and sperm count is a concern or not – should be using a penis health cream (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) on a daily basis to help protect the health of the penis. A vitamin formula packed with penis specific nutrients can help increase blood flow, improve the quality of skin, and help reduce the signs of aging.