The devil of infertility and how AI can change the fate of countless males


Manliness is a complex concept, to be fair, I say this while being a male myself and having the idea of what other males feel, considering the fact that I studied in an all boys school for 11 years straight, from age 8-18. That boisterous, extravagant male camaraderie that you would find in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the individualist, stoic version of masculinity that you would find in Thoreau’s Walden or every Ernest Hemingway novel or Seneca. Then come novels like The Great Gatsby that mix both worlds together like a fantastical yet believable cocktail, the male world has been under a lot of scrutiny.

Of course, the male world has also been subject to criticism for having the vices of tyrannical, towering ambition, raging egocentrism, an all pervading sense of moral ambiguity and the offense of treating the opposite sexes in a hard-headed, unfair manner. It has often been speculated, satirically, psychologically that wars have essentially been fought by the egos of men, who wanted a point to prove and they rallied their military compatriots as part friend, part sybarites who had similar, united desires and when the wars ended, they were Pyrrhic victories, if they can be called victories in the first place.

The role of reproduction, has a divine significance, no matter how much it has been cheapened in pulp fiction, which leads to further unrealistic expectations. But before any rationalist wags a furious finger at my stance, I stand my ground and admit, yes science has led us to places where we would have never expected but to the places where science still shakes it’s head and fails to give any explanation, that my friend, is spirituality.

I digress, today it is not about that debate, maybe someday else I will use my pen for that. The barrier to successful reproduction is infertility, which can be caused for a myriad of reasons, be it congenital or acquired, a dampener to the unlucky recipient. And movies have been made on this subject, male fertility that is, like Shubh Mangal Savdhan, played by the zany Ayushmann Khurana, who has created a persona of being unconventional and the impact of this movie was such, I have heard the title used as a slang in conservations.

Of course in the 80s, Viagra was invented as the quick fix to this phenomenon, and while the appearance of it looks phony and unappetizing, it made millions of men regain their lost youth and sparked a counterculture revolution that has been parodied, criticized, bandied about jokingly but not once have they doubted the efficacy of the drug.

In the recent AI craze, a software has been developed by Dr Steven Vasilescu and his colleagues, appropriately titled SpermSearch  which can detect healthy sperm in a photograph in seconds, a massive upgrade to the redundant microscopes of yore. Is it a way to identify low sperm count, is it a way to help embryologists in the IVF process or is it a way to better define the research of male fertility? The clinical trials have only 7 patients so it is too soon to comment but there is an equal possibility that this may be the penultimate solution to the above mentioned triumvirate, maybe a whitewash on the image of AI?

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