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15 July, 2024
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Ultrasound sparks sperm speed boost for IVF success

Ultrasound waves propel non-moving sperm to swim


A recent study conducted by researchers from Monash University in Melbourne suggests that sluggish sperm could be encouraged to swim faster through ultrasound treatment, potentially enhancing the success rates of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

According to a report on Metro UK, the findings shed light on a possible solution to the declining male fertility rates observed globally, with sperm motility emerging as a key factor.

Led by Ali Vafaie, the research team explored the effects of ultrasound stimulation on sperm motility, the ability of sperm to move effectively. The study involved the separation of 50 semen samples into three categories based on motility: rapid, slow, and immotile. The samples were then subjected to ultrasound waves measuring 800 megawatts at a frequency of 40 megahertz, significantly higher than the frequencies typically used in pregnancy ultrasounds.

Results indicated a remarkable improvement in sperm motility, with up to 266% increase observed in samples treated with ultrasound. Notably, after just 20 seconds of ultrasound stimulation, 59% of previously immotile sperm began to exhibit movement, with a notable reduction in the percentage of immotile sperm samples by the end of the study.

The researchers speculate that ultrasound waves may stimulate mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses responsible for providing energy to sperm. Dysfunction in mitochondria can hinder sperm motility, affecting their ability to reach and fertilize an egg.

While acknowledging the need for further research to assess the safety of ultrasound-treated sperm in fertilization processes, the team remains optimistic about its potential applications in IVF procedures. Traditionally, IVF relies on the natural swimming ability of sperm to reach the egg, but in cases of immotile or abnormal sperm, more invasive techniques like intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are required.

The promising results of the ultrasound treatment offer hope for less invasive and more affordable options in assisted reproduction. The ability to enhance sperm motility could influence the selection of appropriate therapies and improve the overall success rates of IVF treatments.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, underscores the significance of exploring innovative approaches to address male fertility issues and improve outcomes in assisted reproduction. Further research and clinical trials are warranted to validate the effectiveness and safety of ultrasound-based interventions in enhancing fertility treatments.

[With information sourced from Metro UK]

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