Everyone knows it takes a man and a woman, and sometimes a little help from a doctor, to make a baby. But new studies show that male hormones may play an unexpected role in helping women conceive. A recent study has shown that male hormones, known as androgens, may boost a woman’s fertility. This new information could be a boon to women who are looking for assistance conceiving.
The role of these androgens is quite basic: they help by driving the development of follicles. Follicles are the basic units of female fertility, responsible for developing and ultimately releasing an egg and key for in vitro fertilization. For example, during in vitro fertilization (IVF), the doctor extracts follicles from the mother’s body and fertilizes them in the lab with the father’s sperm. This study shows that male androgens may improve the rate of conception in those follicles.
This study offers a potential alternative to the various infertility drugs currently on the market, which often come with side effects. Presently, it is not uncommon for women who have had trouble with these drugs in the past to use the male hormone testosterone to attempt to boost their chances of conceiving. However, the scientific literature so far has been inconclusive on the value of such treatments.
This study offers quantifiable proof about the impact of androgens. The researchers found that, in mice, introducing androgens led to two results: androgens prevent follicles from dying at an early stage and two they induce ovarian cells to produce more follicles. Both of these are critical for women whose bodies do not produce sufficient follicles and thus are less likely to conceive and commonly turn to IVF for assistance.
Learn more about in vitro fertilization in our additional resources section.