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Research published in the journal Physical Review Letters has found that the head and tail movement of sperm cells, similar to the fields around magnets, help them travel through fluid to reach the fallopian tubes.
The team, from the Universities of York, Birmingham, Oxford and Kyoto University in Japan, measured the beat of individual sperm cells' tails to try to understand the flow of fluid around the sperm, and found that a ‘simple mathematical formula’ could be used to explain the rhythmical patterns created.
The researchers hope the findings can help identify what makes sperm successful and could help treat male infertility.
According to studies more than 50 million sperm embark on the journey to fertilise an egg during sexual intercourse, however, only around 10 reach the egg.
Dr Hermes Gadelha, author of the study and lecturer in applied mathematics at the University of York, said: "Every time someone tells me they are having a baby, I think it is one of the greatest miracles ever - but no-one realises."
Prof Allan Pacey, a sperm expert from the University of Sheffield, commented: “The more we know about sperm the better. This might help infertility treatment in some small way but there are lots of other factors to consider too."