Interactions between spermatozoa and the female reproductive tract (FRT) are complex, in many cases poorly understood, and likely to contribute to the mechanistic basis of idiopathic infertility. As such, it is not surprising that the FRT was often viewed historically as a “hostile” environment for spermatozoa. The FRT has also been touted as a selective environment to ensure that only the highest quality spermatozoa progress to the oocyte for the opportunity to participate in fertilization. Recent advances, however, are giving rise to a far more nuanced view in which supportive spermatozoa × FRT interactions—in both directions—contribute to beneficial, even essential, effects on fertility. In this perspective article, we discuss several examples of positive spermatozoa × FRT interactions. We believe that these examples, arising in part from studies of taxonomically diverse nonmammalian systems, are useful to efforts to study mammalian spermatozoa × FRT interactions and their relevance to fertility and the advancement of assisted reproductive technologies.
- female reproductive tract
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Reproductive Medicine