Video Text Alternative: Meet Our Researchers: Future Directions for Infertility Research

To view the original video, please go to

Video/ Graphics Audio
Meet Our Researchers: Future directions for research

NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development logo
GRAPHIC SLIDE: Stuart B. Moss, Ph.D.

Dr. Susan Taymans and Dr. Stuart Moss on camera.
Dr. Stuart Moss: I think I also have said this, but I’d like to try to emphasize it, is that the underlying cause for male infertility
Dr. Moss on camera. Dr. Moss: is really not known in more than 50% of the cases. And that’s where the research needs to be done to figure out the genetic components of infertility right now, so the clinician can help advise the patient in terms of his chances of fathering a child in the future way down the line in terms of correcting the potential defect.
Dr. Taymans and Dr. Moss on camera. Dr. Moss: It’s something that we call idiopathic male infertility. And it probably represents about 50% of the cases of all male infertility.
Dr. Moss on camera. Dr. Moss: It’s a hodgepodge of conditions that we can’t put a specific genetic basis for. We don’t know what genes are being affected, that may be mutated. So, there’s a lot to learn in terms of figuring out the genes that may be involved in producing a normal and viable sperm and how those genes and proteins interact with other genes and proteins within the testis and the other reproductive tract components to produce a functional sperm.
GRAPHIC SLIDE: Susan Taymans, Ph.D.

Dr. Taymans
and Dr. Moss on camera.
Dr. Susan Taymans: So for ovarian biology, I think one of the most interesting questions is the fate of the ovarian follicles, the functional units within an ovary, because we know that a woman produces way more follicles than she will ever use
Dr. Taymans on camera. Dr. Taymans: over her lifetime. There’s about a million that are made, to begin with. By birth, half of those are lost. And they continue to decline over the lifespan. And the outstanding questions are which follicles go on to live and which die? What’s the difference between those? Why is there such a great excess of what will ever be used?
Dr. Taymans and Dr. Moss on camera. Dr. Taymans: And finally, right now there is no way to predict the remaining years in a woman’s reproductive lifespan. And it would be great if a woman could go into her doctor and there was a way that he could measure the remaining follicles and tell her, “You have X number of years, if you still want to consider having children.”
Dr. Taymans on camera. Dr. Taymans: There are some new blood tests that can give kind of a snapshot of what’s going on in the ovary. And if we can kind of calibrate those over time in the same woman, we might be able to give a better estimate of when her fertility is going to end.

Because right now, all you can do is estimate backwards from menopause, and the best estimate of your own menopause is knowing when your mother’s was. So a really rough idea right now would be subtracting 10 years off the time that your mother went through her menopause as being most likely the end of your natural fertility.
Dr. Taymans and Dr. Moss on camera. Dr. Moss: There’s no biomarkers per se that will say the male has until he’s 50. As I said earlier, because there are adult stem cells in the testis, theoretically, the male can produce sperm, functional sperm, throughout the course of his life. If he doesn’t, there’s no way right now of estimating when that stoppage will occur.
top of pageBACK TO TOP