Australian scientists have magnified sperm to 7300 times their normal size—about six inches long—in order to better study fertilization. The treatment, intended for couples with difficulty conceiving, costs $200 and involves examining individual sperm in order to select the healthiest. The chosen ones are then injected into an egg.
Magnifying the men’s sperm to mammoth proportions helps doctors see potential defects—small holes, for example, that render them useless. … “Our experience has shown this technique produces more fertilized eggs, more embryos to transfer or freeze, and a significantly higher pregnancy rate than was possible before,” said Peter Illingworth, medical director of IVF Australia. … The clinic tested the magnification technique on a group of couples, none of whom conceived despite 34 cycles of treatment. After the ultra-magnification and 22 more cycles, eight pregnancies resulted.
Normal sperm cells are 55 microns from head to tail, or around 25,000 times smaller than a ping-pong ball. We’ll spare you the “does size matter?” jokes.