Reproductive tract microbiome in assisted reproductive technologies

The human microbiome in the male and female reproductive tracts may affect reproductive competence and provide a more complete understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of reproduction.


Jason M. Franasiak, M.D., Richard T. Scott Jr., M.D., H.C.L.D.

Volume 104, Issue 6, Pages 1364-1371


The human microbiome has gained much attention recently for its role in health and disease. This interest has come as we have begun to scratch the surface of the complexity of what has been deemed to be our “second genome” through initiatives such as the Human Microbiome Project. Microbes have been hypothesized to be involved in the physiology and pathophysiology of assisted reproduction since before the first success in IVF. Although the data supporting or refuting this hypothesis remain somewhat sparse, thanks to sequencing data from the 16S rRNA subunit, we have begun to characterize the microbiome in the male and female reproductive tracts and understand how this may play a role in reproductive competence. In this review, we discuss what is known about the microbiome of the reproductive tract as it pertains to assisted reproductive technologies.

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