Male fertility startups: Tackling the growing issues in male fertility

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Male fertility startups: Tackling the growing issues in male fertility

Male fertility startups: Tackling the growing issues in male fertility

Subheading text
Biotechnology firms are shifting focus to develop fertility solutions and kits for men.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • May 30, 2023

    Insight highlights

    The global decline in fertility rates, with sperm counts plummeting almost 50% since the 1980s, is triggering an influx of biotech startups offering innovative male fertility solutions. Driven by factors such as Western diets, smoking, alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle, and pollution, this fertility crisis has given rise to solutions like sperm cryopreservation, a method that's been in use since the 1970s, and a newer approach, testicular tissue cryopreservation, that's undergone testing on 700 patients globally to safeguard fertility in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Such startups are aiming to democratize access to fertility information and services for men, typically under-served in this regard, offering affordable fertility kits and storage options, with prices starting from $195.

    Male fertility startups context

    According to the UK National Health Service, 3.5 million people in the UK alone have trouble conceiving because of fertility rates declining globally and sperm counts dropping almost 50 percent between 2022 and the 1980s. Several factors contribute to these rates, such as diets in Western civilizations, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being inactive, and high pollution levels. 

    Decreasing fertility among men has resulted in biotech firms offering several solutions to preserve and improve sperm quality. One such solution is sperm cryopreservation, which has been around since the 1970s. It involves freezing sperm cells at very low temperatures. This method is the most utilized in reproductive technology and procedures, such as artificial insemination and sperm donation.

    An emerging solution tested on 700 global patients is testicular tissue cryopreservation. This therapeutic approach aims to prevent cancer patients from becoming infertile by freezing testicular tissue samples before chemotherapy and re-grafting them after treatment.

    Disruptive impact

    Several startups have been raising venture capital funds for male fertility solutions. According to CEO Khaled Kateily, a former healthcare and life science consultant, women are often taught about fertility, but men aren't given the same information even though the quality of their sperm is gradually declining. The company offers fertility kits and storage options. The initial cost for the kit is $195 USD, and yearly sperm storage costs $145 USD. The firm also offers a package that costs $1,995 USD upfront but allows for two deposits and ten years of storage.

    In 2022, London-based ExSeed Health received $3.4 million USD in funding from Ascension, Trifork, Hambro Perks, and R42 venture firms. According to ExSeed, their at-home kit pairs cloud-based analysis with smartphones, providing clients with a live view of their sperm sample and a quantitative analysis of their sperm concentration and motility within five minutes. The company also provides behavioral and diet information to suggest lifestyle changes that would help improve sperm quality within three months.

    Each kit comes with at least two tests so that users can see how their results get better over time. The ExSeed app is available on iOS and Android and lets users talk to fertility doctors and shows them reports that they can save. The app will recommend a local clinic if a user needs or wants to.

    Implications of male fertility startups 

    Wider implications of male fertility startups may include: 

    • Increased awareness among men to check and freeze their sperm cells. This trend may lead to increasing investments in this field.
    • Countries experiencing low fertility rates subsidizing fertility services for both men and women.
    • Some employers beginning to expand their existing fertility health benefits to not just cover the costs of egg freezing for female employees, but also sperm freezing for male employees.
    • More men in dangerous and injury-prone professional fields, such as soldiers, astronauts, and athletes, availing of male fertility kits.
    • More male, same-sex couples using storage solutions to prepare for future surrogacy procedures.

    Questions to comment on

    • What can governments do to increase awareness about male fertility concerns?
    • How else are male fertility startups going to help improve population declines?

    Insight references

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