In 10 seconds? Infertility affects 15% of couples globally and half of the cases are associated with male factors. But where do these originate from? In this Digest, we'll take a look at the genetic causes of male infertility.

Why is it an important question? A better understanding would help with diagnosing and predicting the transmission of genetic alterations causing infertility from fathers using assisted reproductive technologies to their sons (especially that it raises ethical questions). It is also accepted by researchers that epigenetic factors (i.e. environmental or lifestyle factors affecting the functioning of our genes) can result in the modification of sperm and reduce their fertilizing potential. For example, a systematic review - the strongest form of scientific evidence - from November 2022 found that sperm concentration has reduced by half around the world in the past four decades (falling at about 2.6% annually), and that this was due to lifestyle factors. Apart from these, studying genetic and epigenetic factors will help to define the currently unknown causes of male infertility.

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