Nearly 1 in 7 couples is infertile, which means they haven’t been able to conceive a child even though they’ve had frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer. In up to half of these couples, male infertility plays at least a partial role.
Globally, up to 15% of couples are unable to have children. In the US, about 6% of married women aged 15-44 years are unable to conceive within a year of trying, and around 12% of all American women aged 15-44 years have difficulty either becoming pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.
A CDC study in 2002 found that male infertility caused 7.5% of all sexually experienced men under 45 years to seek help at some point, 14% of whom were diagnosed with sperm or semen problems.
What Causes Male Infertility?
Male infertility can be caused by low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, lifestyle choices and other factors may contribute to male infertility.
Some causes of male infertility can be:
- Varicoceles, when oversized veins on the man’s testicles lead to overheating.
- Diabetes, cystic fibrosis, trauma, infection and testicular failure increase the risk.
- Exposure to chemotherapy, radiation, alcohol, drugs or hormone supplements can contribute.
Male infertility often results because meiosis does not happen. Meiosis is a type of cell division that occurs in the precursor germ cells in the testes. Without it, functional sperm cells cannot form.
What are Common Symptoms?
The main sign of male infertility is the inability to conceive a child. There may be no other obvious signs or symptoms. In some cases an underlying medical condition such as an inherited disorder, hormonal imbalance, dilated veins around the testicle or a condition that blocks the passage of sperm causes signs and symptoms. Some of them can include:
- Problems with sexual function, such as difficulty with ejaculation or small volumes of fluid ejaculated, reduced sexual desire or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction).
- Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area.
- Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality.
- Low sperm count.
Regenerative Medicine Treatment
When there is a problem in the sexual function of the individual, such as erectile dysfunction, due to the associated side effects and lack of long-term efficacy of current treatment options, newer modalities such as regenerative medicine have gained attention due to their safe and prolonged efficacy. Stem cell therapy is one of them.
Stem cells are unique, undifferentiated cells with 3 important features: unlimited proliferation, multi-differentiation potency and perpetual self renewal. They have unique proangiogenic, antifibrotic, and antiapoptotic characteristics.
The regenerative effects of stem cells are attained by the secretion of numerous growth factors (paracrine action) and/or their migration to the injury site along with cell contact and cellular differentiation. In these sites they could regenerate the damaged tissues according to the stimuli or the received signals.
Different studies have shown sustained effects with the use of mesenchymal stem cells and have reported improved penile hemodynamics, sexual desire, intercourse satisfaction and improved erectile function scores.
Other Clinical Studies with Stem Cells
Scientists have previously generated germ cells from stem cells, but the functionality of the germ cells was not proven, nor was there evidence of all the key hallmarks of meiosis.
A team of researchers from Nanjing Medical University has carried out a robust, step-by-step process that not only coaxed embryonic stem cells from mice to turn into functional sperm-like cells, but also injected them into egg cells to produce fertile mouse offspring.
They exposed mouse embryonic stem cells to a chemical cocktail that caused the cells to turn into primordial germ cells. Then they exposed the cells to testicular cells, as well as sex hormones such as testosterone, in order to recreate the natural tissue enviroment of the cells.
Under the previously mentioned conditions meiosis happened, producing sperm-like cells with correct nuclear DNA and chromosomal content and when injected into mouse egg cells, embryos developed. They then transferred the embryos into female mice, where they progressed normally and produced healthy, fertile offspring that later gave birth to another generation.
These findings are an important step in understanding the molecular mechanisms of meiosis and how they can be used in a human model in further studies, which one day could become a major development in the treatment of infertility.
Stem Cell Therapy at Zignagenix
At Zignagenix we offer a combined therapy for ED, that includes an intravenous infusion of mesenchymal stem cells with exosomes, which also contains antiinflammatory substances called cytokines, and localized injections (P-Shot) directly into the cavernous bodies of the penis and the glans.
We also include Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) to the localized injections to increase the quantity of growth factors, chemokines and angiogenic factors that play a crucial role in regenerating damaged cells in the nerve cells and in the corporal tissues of the penis. P-Shot is a quick procedure and you don’t need any type of preparation previous to your treatment.
These current regenerative therapies including both stem cells and PRP have shown incredible results in terms of restoring erectile functions, sexual life of males and therefore play a crucial role in restoring confidence and relationships. At our clinic we have extensive experience in managing this condition with a high degree of satisfaction among our patients.
Yvette Brazier (2016, Feb 26). Sperm created from stem cells offer hope in cases of male infertility. Medical News Today. Retrieved from:
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Ethan L. Matz, Ryan Terlecki, Yuanyuan Zhang, John Jackson, Anthony Atala. Stem Cell Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction. Sexual Medicine Reviews, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2019, Pages 321-328.
Protogerou V, Chrysikos D, Karampelias V, Spanidis Y, Sara EB, Troupis T. Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Using Stem Cells: A Review. Medicines (Basel). 2021;8(1):2. Published 2021 Jan 6. doi:10.3390/medicines8010002