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A to Zinc: Missouri Researchers Confirm Zinc's Role in Fertility

(University of Missouri)
June 20, 2018

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Infertility affects 20 percent of the population, and finding ways to overcome the conditions that prompt it can cost thousands of dollars and hours of heartache. Researchers at the University of Missouri have confirmed that zinc plays a large role in supporting fertility in men.

Karl Kerns, a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri and one of the study authors, explained how the discovery will improve results with in vitro fertilization across the world.

"Every in vitro fertilization round costs approximately $20,000," he said. "If we understand fertility from the male side better, we can perhaps use different assisted reproductive technologies, so they can make better decisions and have better success, and increase emotional health."

The research also supports analyzing sperm to determine its potential to fertilize an egg. Kerns said the findings also have potential implications for livestock breeding. Researchers have estimated that if pig farmers, for instance, could add one more piglet to every litter, it would increase pork producers' income by $130 million a year.

According to researchers, male infertility is a factor in 30 percent of all infertility cases. Kerns said this research may prompt couples to look for solutions involving both partners.

"A lot of times, it goes undiagnosed and puts pressure on the female side of the relationship," he said, "when scientifically speaking, that's not needed, that there's actually things going on on the male side."

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health, with support from the European Development Fund.

More information is online at

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - MO