Scientists at the University of Saskatchewan and an international team of researchers have discovered that a protein in semen actually prompts ovulation in females.
The findings, which appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, raises intriguing questions about the role of semen in fertility in mammals, including humans. This implies the semen of a male mammal may actually induce a female’s fertility.
“The idea that a substance in mammalian semen has a direct effect on the female brain is a new one,” Gregg Adams the lead researcher of the international team explains.
These new findings confirm that semen is not only important as a vehicle that carries sperm, but also directly plays a role in triggering ovulation.
Dubbed as the ovulation-inducing factor (OIF), the identified protein acts as a signal to the female brain to trigger the release of other hormones that then prompt the ovaries to release an egg.
For couples who have been struggling to conceive, these findings unlock new clinical insight on the causes of infertility and how it can be treated, including more non-invasive options such as lifestyle changes. In this case, having more frequent and sexual intercourse may be an option worth trying.