Please make a gift today to support our research into potential causes of male infertility.

Research into potential causes of male infertility

You can make a difference today.

Research into potential causes of male infertility

Male factor infertility accounts for 50% of Australian couples' infertility*. Recent medical research has highlighted a concerning decline in male fertility in Western populations. For the period 1973 to 2011 total sperm counts have been dropping by 1.6% per year, constituting an overall decline of 59.3% over these four decades**. 

Although many factors have been already been identified as impacting upon sperm quality and health, there are still approximately 30-40% of infertile men for whom no cause has been found for their failure to conceive*.

Our research

University of Sydney researchers are exploring the impact of prebiotic, probiotic and synbiotic supplementation on the quality of sperm in miniature stallions and how it may be linked to the profiles of their semen and intestinal microbiomes.

Using state-of-the-art genomic sequencing technology, our multidisciplinary research aims to explore the connection between the microbiome and fertility,  to understand  the falling rates of male fertility in many human populations today. Within this important research, our team is using samples from miniature horses to conduct translational research to advance our understanding of the causes of human male infertility.

Please make a gift today to support our research into potential causes of male infertility.

You could make a difference

Our findings could

  • improve current equine breeding practices and fertility outcomes, as well as 
  • improve general understanding around equine fertility
  • inspire further research in the human fertility domain.

By supporting this research to explore how treatments of the microbiome may affect equine sperm quality, we have the opportunity to positively impact equine health.


We need your help

We have already completed field testing and are in the process of  data analysis. Your donation could enable us to find hidden pieces of the equine fertility puzzle within our data and support future research.

Your gift today will help to support this exciting and important research.

All donations $2 and above are tax-deductible and receipts will be sent directly by email once you complete your online gift. If you are not in a position to give today, please share this page with your family and friends using the links at the top of the page.

Our researchers include:

 Dr Joanna Harnett, MHSc, PhD, Principle Investigator. 

Research supervisor and lecturer at the Sydney Pharmacy School, Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, Joanna specialises in medicinal complementary medicines. She conducts research in the broader area of complementary medicine and nutrition and the gastrointestinal microbiome.

Associate Professor Chris Grupen 

 Co-investigator and Associate Professor at The University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science. Associate Professor Grupen’s main research interest is to increase our understanding of gamete (sperm and eggs) and embryo biology in order to improve the efficiencies of advanced reproductive technologies in production animals and enhance the effectiveness of fertility treatments in animals and humans.His core research expertise lies in the application of gamete and embryo manipulations, such as oocyte in vitro maturation, in vitro fertilisation, embryo culture, embryo vitrification and the production of transgenic animals.

Dr Giselle Cooke MB, BS, PhD Candidate, Study Director

Researching male infertility and the microbiome since 2016, Giselle brings 40 years of clinical medical experience to question the problem of why isn’t anyone doing anything about the steadily deteriorating sperm quality of potential fathers after 50 years of decline? A generation is vanishing. Her knowledge base is in nutritional and environmental medicine, integrative therapeutics and now equine fertility and the microbiome.


*Male Infertility - The other side of the equation, Volume 46, No.9, September 2017, pages 641-646

**Human Reproduction Update, Volume 23, Issue 6, November-December 2017, pages 646-659


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