Found THIS ARTICLE, today. Some clever scientists in America have been prodding sperm with electrodes.
Apparently the tail of every good sperm has something called a CatSper, a channel for processing externally sourced calcium into electrical activity - a tail engine, effectively, for all that swimming, albeit requiring a separate fuel source. Yet more scientists are now already trying to work out how to block the CatSper, in an effort to create a male contraceptive. Typical.
These little channels were only discovered in 2001 and I am unable to ascertain whether gentlemen who would have passed their MOT prior to that date, might now be found wanting. I guess its the difference between two perfectly functioning articles, where only one has rechargeable batteries?
It seems that a sperm does not leave home fully fuelled (or with the battery topped up, pick your analogy,) but if the engine's running, it will absorb calcium from a suitably calcium rich/alkaline environment for added boost. In fact here it says that two different alkaline fluids are already present in semen, 30% of the bulk coming from the seminal vesicles, 60% coming from the prostate gland. I do so hope, now we know all about this Catsper and can measure it's effectiveness, that the scientists will at least look closer at these two supplements to establish which does what, precisely, how effectively, and for how long.
Where are the articles on female fertility? Why isn't anyone jumping for joy at the repercussions of this for those who actually want to reproduce? Why is there no news of funding for such research?
Female orgasm, it says here, will "increase the quantity and flow of the natural alkaline secretions that occur around ovulation." Woah, no wonder women who are stressed over their desire to be pregnant are less likely to conceive. It's long been an old wives tail that the best way to have a baby is to stop trying and I guess it brings a whole new meaning to the concept of getting acid with stress.
There is apparently, however, no research at all on whether stress can do the same thing to men, leaving their otherwise perfect sperm without a sufficient initial boost. This is wrong and needs to be corrected fairly urgently, don't you think? I was going to say that puts a whole new meaning on the slang term 'lunchbox', but I won't, because that would be gross.
Still, its long been said that a woman having trouble conceiving should change her diet to encourage an alkaline system. Quite aside from stress undoing any efforts in that direction, I have to wonder what effect antidepressants or even other, common and over-the-counter medications have on the PH of the body. What about bubble bath? Can what you choose to wash with make a difference? Perhaps its time for some women to stop poking around with a thermometer and start fiddling with PH strips instead, Or perhaps it's time someone came up with a calcium pessary? Do current infertility tests even measure the alkalinity?
I'd like to say 'give it a decade'. I'd like to say that some very crucial advances are going to come out of this. My heart, however, goes out to those who don't have another ten years to mess around.