Inhibition of Sperm Capacitation in vitro by Contraceptive Steroids


THE way in which small doses of progesterone prevent fertility without inhibiting ovulation is unknown. Inhibition of uterine decidualization may be involved, or increased viscosity of cervical mucus. A third possibility is that these contraceptive steroids interfere with capacitation, a process by which sperm undergo a final maturation enabling them to fertilize ova1. Capacitation has been demonstrated in several species2 and there is some evidence that it occurs in humans3,4. The process seems to be horrnonally regulated, for in rabbits it depends on the level of gonadotrophin5, does not occur in the pseudopregnant animal6 and is reduced by injections of progesterone7. Hamster sperm can be capacitated in vitro with follicular fluid or the contents of an oviduct8,9, and these techniques made it possible for us to determine the effects of contraceptive steroids on the Capacitation process.

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GWATKIN, R., WILLIAMS, D. Inhibition of Sperm Capacitation in vitro by Contraceptive Steroids. Nature 227, 182–183 (1970).

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