Sperm takes centre stage at Fertility 2022

By Professor Sheena Lewis


Well, Fertility 2022 is over and what a conference it was. Although we couldn’t meet face-to-face, compliments have been flying in from delegates about the programme and even suggesting that not having a hangover (as is normal for an in person meeting!) was a major benefit. I am always pleased to see male fertility getting the attention it deserves, so my highlights from this year’s show included several of the talks about sperm, a clear focus of this year’s show.

Let me share a few of my highlights: Prof. Daniel Brison gave a masterful ‘Bob Edwards Memorial Lecture’ talking through his own career as an embryologist. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Daniel for his pivotal contributions to lab protocol optimisation and also for driving large trials to provide data on ART offspring at birth.

John Aitken gave a powerful if uncomfortable lecture discussing the evidence that poor sperm can have an impact on childhood health. His recommendation was that every man’s sperm should be optimised before treatment in order to safeguard children’s health. Who could ignore that advice?

Michael Eisenberg also gave a fascinating talk on sperm health. In this case he discussed how it can be used as an indicator of later onset disease. It turns out that sperm has more than one use!

We ended with an interesting debate on the causes of declining sperm counts. Richard Sharpe was fighting the widely held belief that the major cause was environmental chemicals. He managed to convince 25% of previous unbelievers that western diet was a worse culprit. Well done, Richard! And what is a great take home message because our diet is one factor under our own control!

Next year we are meeting in my home city of Belfast – I, alongside all of the Examen team, am looking forward to welcoming our colleagues from the fertility community to this wonderful city and I can guarantee a few hangovers then… In the meantime, if you’re interested in further insights from leaders in male fertility research and treatment, check out our male fertility webinar series.

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