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# Mathematical Formula Solves Age-Old Question: How Do Sperm Swim?

Mar 23, 2017 11:38 AM EDT

Have you ever wondered how tiny sperm manage to swim to get to the fallopian tubes?

According to BBC, during the process of conception, more than 50 million sperm attempt to fertilize an egg. At least 10 of them reach the finish line, but only one will be successful. So how do a sperm get to the winning badge?

A study, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, says it's all about the rhythmic movement of a sperm's head and tail, which could be explained by a mathematical formula.

Researchers from the University of York, Birmingham, Oxford and Kyoto University measured the beat of individual sperm.

According to Science Alert, the measurements of the beat of the flagella were entered in a computer and waveforms were generated. The team then converted the waveforms to a mathematical formula, which made it possible to recreate the beats.

The mathematical formula allowed them to further understand the fluid flow patterns that result to the movements they have observed.

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They have found out that their beat or rhythm when swimming determines how fast and accurate they will hit the "holy grail" Depending on its rhythm, the cell can push itself in several different directions, Huffington Post notes.

Using computer simulations, the researchers also revealed that in order to propel itself forward towards the egg to be fertilized, the sperm needs to make "multiple contradictory movements," such as moving backwards.

Dr. Hermes Gadelha explains in a statement that even though the jerking movement of the sperm may have random effects on the fluid around it, it's actually the opposite. In fact, these movements result to a well-defined pattern in the fluid that helps in navigation.

"This suggests that to achieve locomotion sperm stirs the fluid around in a very coordinated way, not too dissimilar to the way in which magnetic fields are formed around magnets," Gadelha explained. "So although the fluid drag makes it very difficult for the sperm to make forward motion, it does coordinate with its rhythmic movements to ensure that only a few selected ones achieve forward propulsion."

The study will not only reveal how large numbers of sperm interact, but most especially will help in developing treatments for male infertility.