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10 Interesting Facts About Sperm

Can you name another cell that's been played in a movie by Woody Allen?

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5. Glow-in-the-dark sperm

Back in the '80s glow-in-the-dark condoms,  as in this scene from Skin Deep, were revolutionary. Now it’s the sperm that glow-in-the-dark and help provide researchers with a whole new way to research what the little swimmers are up to. In 2010  Christine Dell’Amore of National Geographic reported on a study in which  germline stem cells of mice were “genetically engineered to be fluorescent” and tagged certain cells within those cells with color to watch their development. The quick process scientist once thought sperm development to be was just not the case: sometimes the stem cells go through several cell divisions, sometimes not, sometimes they start to become a sperm cell and then revert back to being a stem cell.


I would: too much competition to potentially just end up in a Kleenex. That’s not entirely a joke. Even if you were a sperm who got to go on the grand quest for fertilization, study co-author Robert Braun called the fertilization process “surprisingly inefficient,” and says the reason for the enormous amount of sperm is that there has to be a "large initial payload [for those] few cells to make it to the final destination." And yet the process is efficient enough to make contraception an  important factor in our lives. Studying sperm on this level could lead to advances in male birth control, like thwarting germline from becoming sperm in the first place.


6. Build a better swimmer

If you’re trying to facilitate pregnancy rather than prevent it, here are a few things you should know about giving your boys a boost: 

* The  Pharmacy Times reports that a study published in the Journal of Human Reproduction says that spending time in a sauna can lower a man's sperm count and keep it down for as long as six months. It’s called “scrotal hyperthermia.” In the study 10 Finnish men had two 15-minute sauna treatments a week for three months which raised their scrotal temperature by 3 degrees Celsius and impaired both sperm count and motility. Temperature clearly affects sperm health with slightly cooler being better,  hence the scrotum being on the outside the body.  So it’s not surprising that in a study reported on by  Stefan Sirucek of NatGeo on a report from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev that sperm motility and structure is strongest in the winter (though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try in all the other months….again and again and again). 

* Exercise is better for sperm than TV marathons are:  Drew Armstrong of Bloomberg reported on a study by Harvard researchers saying that young men who exercised frequently had 73% more sperm than non-exercisers and the sperm counts of those who watched 20 or more hours of TV per week were “almost halved.”  

* Nuts are good for your nuts.  Shawn Radcliffe of Men’s Fitness reports on a study from the University of California saying that men who ate about two and a half servings of walnuts a day saw an increase in sperm health -- motility, shape and size -- after 12 weeks. Sperm benefit from the omega-3 fatty acids (let’s call ‘em daddy acids) also found in fish oil and other foods. 


7. Because what a man really wants is to stick his penis into a huge machine….

Never having had to produce a sperm sample for any medical or commercial purpose I have no idea what it’s like. Maybe, if I had a choice between masturbating the boring old organic way and leaving the job to a torso-high, pulsating machine I would choose the latter. 

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