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The Power of Semen

The Power of Semen

Originally published on September 19, 2012, on

Just when we thought we had the biology of human reproduction figured out, new research shows there’s still plenty we don’t understand. Today’s example? A team of biologists have shown that a protein commonly found in the semen of many animals—including humans—can help kick-start the release of an egg (a.k.a. ovulation). The protein, which has been on biologists’ radars for a long time, is called beta nerve growth factor, or β-NGF—named for the first thing scientists noticed it doing.

Studies in llamas, alpacas, and cows show that giving β-NGF as a shot leads to the release of an egg in most of the animals. But what about humans? We know there is β-NGF in human semen too, but we don’t know whether it does something similar in humans as in the animals the scientists tested it on. The researchers hope to tackle this question next.

The answers they find will help determine how reliable the rhythm method (a.k.a. fertility awareness) can be as a form of birth control. It could also suggest a new treatment for couples struggling with infertility… We’ll be keeping our ears open!



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Everyone should have the life they want, when they want it. And until someone is ready to have a baby, we believe they should have access to birth control. That’s where we come in. Bedsider makes birth control easier. How? By giving you everything you need to find it, get it, and use it well.


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2:29PM PST on Dec 18, 2014

β-NGF is great for preventing wrinkles.

9:53AM PST on Nov 3, 2014

We need free access to birth control for everyone on earth who needs it. An additional mouth to feed is not always something a parent can afford.

5:13AM PDT on Oct 30, 2014

Thanks for this very interesting article

4:26PM PDT on Oct 29, 2014

The power of semen? Enormous, incomprehensible! Even the writer of this article wouldn't have been there if a small microscopic tedpole like thing didn't crawl up & fertilized the female egg that finally culminated in to the writer setting foot in this world!

6:19AM PDT on Oct 26, 2014

It is worth noting that this discovery will NOT, by itself, lead to a male birth control pill or shot, because sperm is capable of fertilizing an egg that is ALREADY present even without this enzyme (we've been reproducing, and scientists have understood basically how that works, for a long time without knowing about it).

What it COULD do is help men whose partners ovulate irregularly to become fathers, by means of an injection or other form of administration to the woman. The only way it can help PREVENT births is to be aware that "rhythm" is not reliable, and this is one of the reasons (i.e. if a couple thinks that 7 days before ovulation is "safe," it might not be safe if the husband's sperm can INDUCE ovulation).

3:24AM PDT on Oct 26, 2014

Tonya F., you are clueless. Do some reading for chrissakes.

8:17AM PDT on Oct 20, 2014

Yes, our planet IS overpopulated with humans.

9:27PM PDT on Oct 19, 2014

Finally, sounds like a good shot at male birth control! Sounds good to me. Hope it would be something that a single dose would last at least a month, maybe something that could be put in a drink...

10:32AM PDT on Oct 19, 2014

thanks for the article on the power of semen :)

2:42PM PDT on Oct 17, 2014

Having protected sex is fine. Being irresponsible and having babies people can't feed, not fine. If someone just has to have more dependents, consider a puppy from the local shelter; but only if getting one is not an impulse decision.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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