Human reproduction is relatively inefficient. Nearly 30% of pregnancies result in spontaneous losses, which are both a clinical problem and a psychological stress to the families involved. Furthermore, although the human population is growing rapidly and is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050, 15% of couples worldwide are childless because of infertility. Many underlying causes of infertility have been overcome by assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization, yet pregnancy success rates using such approaches remain disappointingly low. Since mechanistic approaches to study human reproductive processes are ethically restricted, future advances in fertility treatment and the development of new contraceptives rely predominantly on the study of the factors influencing reproduction in model systems. The articles in this Reproductive Biology Review series present updates on the current understanding of various reproductive processes in model systems and raise questions that need to be addressed if we are to improve human reproductive health.
Sudhansu K. Dey