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Representation of sperm surrounding an egg on a pink background

Vardit Ravitsky is an associate professor of bioethics at the University of Montreal.

Sarah Kimmins is an associate professor at McGill University and Canada Research Chair in Epigenetics, Reproduction and Development.

Forty years ago last month, the first in vitro fertilization (IVF) baby, Louise Brown, was born. Since then, the performance and social acceptability of assisted reproduction has increased tremendously. To date, over eight million babies have been born using these technologies. With infertility on the rise, one in six couples is unable to conceive without such clinical intervention.

Indeed, these technologies are one of medicine’s greatest success stories, but they have continuously focused on women. Men have been largely neglected in terms of research, diagnosis and treatment.

For instance, diagnostic methods for male infertility are based on outdated assessments of semen that have remained essentially unchanged for the past half century. But over the past 40 years, sperm counts worldwide have halved and sperm quality has declined alarmingly. One in 20 men currently faces reduced fertility. Potential causes include environmental exposure, rising rates of obesity and delayed parenthood. There...