Blame Mutant Sperm For Your Partner’s Infertility

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Infertility is a loaded problem for couples whose hearts continue to break over repeated efforts to conceive. While infertility has also been known to be somewhat elusive with regards to causes, some new discoveries about male sperm reveal that sperm count is not always a solid indicator of potency. Genetic mutations within a specific protein can also contribute to male infertility.

Livescience reports that a gene called a gene called DEFB124 encodes a protein called beta-defensin 126, which helps sperm swim up the womb and protects them asthey make their way through the mucus of the cervix. Such a genetic mutation severely impacts male fertility:

Men with two mutant copies of DEFB124 lack beta-defensin 126. Their sperm look and swim normally when seen under a microscope; however, the scientists discovered the little swimmers are about 85 percent less able to make their way through an artificial gel resembling human cervical mucus, revealing how this genetic defect likely accounts for many hitherto unexplained cases of infertility.

Before you panic at the thought of such fertility misfortune, consider that synthetic forms of beta defensin 126 are available to be added to sperm in vaginally applied creams or gels. Most ironically, scientists stumbled across these findings when researching male contraception in the form of proteins that coat sperm. It seems as though scientists may have stumbled across a very effective method indeed.