Semen does more than fertilise eggs.
It appears to prompt similar changes in women, a finding that could explain why IVF is more successful if couples have regular sex during treatment. Sarah Robertson at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and her colleagues found that each time a female mouse copulates, it caused the release of immune cells called regulatory T-cells, which are known to dampen down inflammation in the body.
This process may be important for allowing embryos to implant in the womb, rather than being rejected as a foreign body.
Semen reshapes immune system to boost chances of pregnancy
In people, low regulatory T-cell counts are linked to several reproductive problems, including unexplained infertility, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia and pre-term labour. Examining the cervix in women, the team found signs that semen does seem to prompt immune system changes in people too.
Shortly after sex, they detected the cervix begins to release immune signalling molecules, which may be an early sign of increased levels of regulatory T-cells. Women who conceive after limited sexual activity are more likely to develop disorders during pregnancy , she adds. The discovery has implications for IVF.
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Many fertility clinics advise couples to abstain from sex during IVF treatment to minimise risk of infection from seminal fluid during the implantation surgery. The understanding of prostaglandins physiology permits a more rational approach to migraine therapy than has been possible in the past. Volume 17 , Issue 3.
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