Andrology

Sperm Preparation

In order to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients undergoing IUI procedures, the Andrology Laboratory provides a full spectrum of sperm preparation services. Sperm preparation is a science involving different techniques used to improve sperm quality. Several preparation techniques are available to address different sperm quality problems. Once a diagnostic analysis is complete, the physician will determine the appropriate sperm preparation for each unique situation.

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Types of Sperm Preparation

Sperm Washing

This technique removes the sperm from the semen and places it in an artificial fluid that can improve sperm motility, longevity and its ability to penetrate the egg. This procedure takes about 20 minutes after the semen is liquefied. Washing is the most helpful process to handle fragile sperm, such as frozen-thawed (cryopreserved) sperm and samples with antibodies (Anti-sperm antibody testing).

Density Gradient

The density gradient separation is one of the most common sperm preparations ordered by physicians. Sperm are separated by putting the sample through two different concentrations of a colloidal solution. This concentrates the sperm with the best motility and separates them from those with poor or no motility.

This preparation also helps to reduce or eliminate the presence of white blood cells and other debris. The procedure takes about one hour to complete. Occasionally, this technique cannot be used due to the ejaculate volume, sperm count and/or motility being too low. In such cases other techniques such as a sperm incubation may be used.

Refrigeration/Heparin Incubation

Patients who have capacitation or acrosome reaction defect, can utilize a sperm penetration enhancing preparation, such as the refrigeration/heparin incubation. The technique involves obtaining two sperm samples about 24 hours apart. The first sample undergoes refrigeration in a capacitation-stimulating medium; the second sample is incubated with the chemical heparin. Both of these treatments help to improve the sperm’s penetration capacity, increasing its ability to fertilize. Patients who have a decreased sperm penetration rate from the Sperm Penetration Assay may benefit from this type of sperm preparation.

Sperm Incubation

The sperm incubation enhances the motility of the sperm and the ability of the sperm to penetrate the egg. It also concentrates sperm and eliminates prostaglandins in the seminal fluid, which may cause intrauterine cramping.

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