Male Infertility may be Caused by Mutant Sperm

An estimated 15% of couples experience difficulty conceiving. Conventional wisdom blamed the woman for difficulties conceiving, but new research is showing that in nearly a third of cases, the man is the infertile partner. A newly discovered genetic variation in male sperm may be to blame in many cases.

Normally, the gene causes the production of a protein called beta-Defensin 126 or DEFB126, which coats the surface of sperm. When the gene is mutated, the protein is missing, and the sperm have that problem in transit, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, in a report published Wednesday. Wives of men with the genetic variation were less likely to become pregnant than other couples and 30 percent less likely to give birth, the researchers said.

Basically, some men's sperm just aren't good swimmers. They're the kids at the pool wearing water wings and flailing around in terror. They'll never learn.

Hope isn't lost, though, for men who wish to be fathers but have the condition. First, now that we know the condition exists, medical professionals can test for it, and if the mutation is found, help is available.

For couples who have the genetic mutation doctors can use insemination to get the sperm right next to the eggs and overcome the handicap. If that relatively simple intervention doesn't work, they can resort in vitro fertilization, even injecting a single sperm into the egg, if necessary.

Of course, I know plenty of women who would prefer to remain childless, and men with this condition might be extra appealing to them. Suggested pick up line- "Want to come back to my place? I've got mutant sperm that can't swim."

Mutated Sperm Linked to Male Infertility [MSNBC]