Do sperm have a sense of smell, and what’s it got to do with Lily of the Valley and sea urchins?

Margi Macdonald

Convallaria_majalis_0002.jpegDuring pre-conception care, one of the things I discuss with couples is the “fertile window“, and that there’s a lot of chemical signalling going on between sperm and the egg.

In these discussions, essentially we’re working to ensure that there will be several million healthy, active sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes beforeovulation occurs, quietly communicating with the egg once it’s released.

About ten years ago – or thereabouts – scientists discovered “smelling capabilities” (or rather, an odorant receptor on human sperm). You can read about that here.

Bourgeonal is the sperm-attracting chemical discussed in that article .

Bourgeonal smells floral, green and watery, and is highly reminiscent of Lily of the Valley. How delightful is that?!

A “scent trail” was thought to be laid by the egg for the sperm to follow.

Sperm have a long journey ahead in their quest for the egg…

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