The Egg and Sperm race is a really fun activity stall set up at music and science festivals around the UK, but what messages are we trying to communicate?
Well, we think it’s really important that people understand the importance of good sexual health. Scientists like us at the University of Edinburgh MRC Centre for Reproductive Health have carried out lots of research on the effects of lifestyle choices on sexual health, fertility and pregnancy and they’ve found that living a healthy life is very important in maintaining a healthy reproductive system, improving fertility and having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
The message we really want to get across is that making a baby is an absolutely amazing event: Half the genetic information needed to make a baby is stored in a female egg cell, and the other half in a male sperm cell. All the things that have to happen for a sperm to successfully meet and fertilise an egg make us wonder how it ever happens naturally at all!
The chances of a sperm meeting an egg are slim at the best of times, but untreated sexually transmitted infections can decrease your chances of conceiving even more, and if a woman does manage to get pregnant, an untreated infection can cause an ectopic pregnancy (when the baby develops outside of the womb – usually in one of the fallopian tubes).
Regular check-ups to treat infections, and using a condom to prevent their spread could improve fertility by giving sperm and eggs a helping hand.