Fertility ratio is defined here as the proportion of females that a male can impregnate after a constant period of in-polygyny living. This ratio was investigated in male rats after denervation of two pelvic floor muscles, the pubococcygeus and iliococcygeus. Denervation was carried out by transecting the somatomotor branch of the pelvic nerve. The lesion did not modify the sexual behavior of males or their overall fertility, but decreased the weight of the ejaculated seminal plug. Consequently, the number of days living in cohabitation to induce pregnancy was increased in lesioned males (~13 days) compared with intact and sham animals (~5 days). These results showed that the fertility ratio was optimal when intact/sham males cohabited with females for two consecutive estrous cycles, but that lesioned males needed up to four cycles to induce most pregnancies. Two hypotheses are raised by our results. The first is that pelvic floor denervation decreases the forceful tension required to expel the semen from the prostatic urethra to the vagina, then an incomplete seminal plug is expelled. The second is that denervation cut afferent fibers that reflexively promote the continence of the semen deposited in the prostatic urethra during seminal emission, allowing some to leak out before ejaculation. The latter hypothesis can also explain the recovery of the fertility ratio in lesioned males. It could be a compensatory mechanism mediated by the pudendal nerve supply to the coccygeus muscle, the other pelvic floor muscle. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
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