- After ultrasonic stimulation, 59% of previously non-moving sperm began to swim
Slow sperm could swim faster when subjected to ultrasound, a new study has found, which could increase motility by up to 266 percent.
Groundbreaking research from Monash University in Melbourne may be the key to improving IVF success rates as male fertility around the world continues to decline.
The research put the theory to the test by grouping 50 semen samples according to the speed of their swimmers: fast, slow and still or immobile.
The samples were then bombarded with 800 megawatt ultrasonic waves at a frequency of 40 megahertz.
After 20 seconds of stimulation with ultrasonic waves, 59 percent of the previously immobile sperm began swimming at different speeds.
Groundbreaking research from Monash University in Melbourne may be the key to improving IVF success rates as male fertility around the world continues to decline (file image)
Nonmotile sperm, which originally accounted for 36 percent of the samples analyzed, dropped to just 10 percent by the end of the study.
Experts believe the miraculous burst of energy may have to do with the sperm’s mitochondria, the tiny organelles inside that act as a kind of “battery.”
When ultrasound waves are applied, the mitochondria may be reactivated.
During IVF, slow swimmers can make or break a successful artificial insemination.
When a sperm sample and an egg are incubated in a dish during a conventional IVF procedure, the “best” swimmer will reach the egg first and fertilize it.
However, when the sperm are immotile or have an abnormality, a more expensive procedure is required during which a single sperm is selected and injected directly into the egg.
While researchers have yet to use sperm that have been exposed to ultrasound to fertilize an egg, they hope their breakthrough will one day help boost the success of IVF procedures and make them cheaper.
“Our motility improvement results are promising for the application of this mechanotherapy method in assisted reproduction,” the researchers stated in the journal Science Advances.
«Sperm motility in a patient’s sample determines the selection of the most appropriate therapy and significantly influences the success rate of the selected treatment cycle.
“Therefore, being able to alter motility can potentially alter therapy type selection and resulting outcomes toward the application of less invasive and more affordable options.”