Sperm Preparation

Semen is composed of seminal fluid and spermatozoa. Semen preparation is necessary to evaluate spermatozoa and to determine the best treatment approach, including the method of insemination. Semen preparation is always necessary for IVF or ICSI because seminal fluid will otherwise inhibit fertilization and therefore must be completely removed. Semen specimens also will be processed when sperm cryopreservation is intended to preserve said specimen for future use.

A Collection Room is available on the premises but the sample can be collected offsite if transport to the clinic can be managed within 1 hour of collection. The program coordinators can provide you with instructions for offsite semen collection. The male partner must hand the sample over to a laboratory technician once the chain of custody has been verified.  The sample is then transported to the Andrology laboratory and placed into an incubator for liquefaction or change from a thick gel into a liquid.  Once liquefied (usually in 15 minutes to 1 hour), a semen analysis is performed during which the sample is assessed for volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility and progression, and sperm morphology; survival after a 24-hour incubation period in IVF conditions is also assessed. Sperm morphology and 24-hour survival rate are not assessed when the sample is being used for a current IVF or ICSI procedure.  All of these characteristics are considered when determining the processing method as well as the method of insemination in order to obtain the best fertilization results.  Almost all samples are processed according to their current semen analysis parameters using variations of the well-tested Mini-density gradient (Mini DG) protocol.  This method allows for the isolation of normal motile sperm (provided they are present) from the semen.  Once the sperm have been isolated, they are placed in suspension in a test tube and the tube is labeled with the patient’s identifying information. This tube is taken to the IVF laboratory and placed in the incubator holding the dish(es) containing the female partner’s eggs; the sample is used for insemination of the eggs at the appropriate time.

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