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Infertile Men May Pass an Infertility Gene Onto Their Sons

About 15 years ago, fertility specialists figured out how to extract sperm from individuals who had an unbelievably low sperm count in an effort to help them to become parents. This process is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) - where they inject a single sperm into an egg to make an embryo outside a woman's body. The embryo is then placed in the mother's womb (known as in vitro fertilization, or IVF), and nine months later, a baby is born. This new technology is no doubt considered a miracle, but now there are concerns about whether infertility will be passed on to those children who are born with the help of ICSI and IVF.

As for the daughters, there appears to be fewer problems since female infertility usually stems from a physical issue, such as a blocked fallopian tube. The cause of male infertility, on the other hand, is not so clear cut; it could be genetic, making it possible that this new generation that scientists helped to create might actually be infertile too.

Right now, one out of every eight couples is affected by fertility issues, and 40 percent of the time, the problem lies with the man. Of the 52,000 babies that are born using IVF, between 8,000 to 9,000 of the babies' fathers had help through ICSI. Both ICSI and IVF are thought to be safe, but scientists say there just isn't enough information to be sure, and with concerns about creating an infertile generation, this issue definitely needs further exploration.


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