Sperm washing process and rationale explained by male fertility specialist in Frisco, TX
Sperm washing is a step that is required before undergoing intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, or other procedures such as sperm freezing. At NTMIC Sperm Lab in Frisco, TX, we receive many questions from our patients about this process and why it is essential. Read on to learn more about how sperm washing works and how it helps increase the fertility success rate.
What is sperm washing, and why is it necessary?
Sperm wash is a sterile and scientific procedure for separating sperm from the seminal fluid. That is a beneficial step before IUI, IVF, and other methods because it removes chemicals from the semen, which can cause adverse reactions when they are introduced into the uterus. Sperm washing also helps enhance the concentration of healthy sperm available to fertilize the egg because the centrifugation process separates the most aerodynamic and fastest sperm. Since it separates the most normally shaped sperm, sperm washing can help improve the concentration of sperm with good morphology of the sperm, which can also increase the fertility rate as these sperm are better able to penetrate the egg on their own.
Because this process helps increase the concentration of highly motile sperm with the best morphology. Sperm washing is usually recommended for men who have a low number of sperm (generally defined as less than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen) or whose sperm has low motility. It can also be recommended when immune system disorders are a factor, or there is unexplained infertility.
Sperm wash steps
- Centrifugation: After the semen is collected, it is placed on top of a dense fluid in a test tube, spun exceptionally quickly on a centrifuge machine to separate the best sperm from the slower and less aerodynamic sperm as well as the other semen components.
- Siphoning: The best quality sperm separated from the rest are siphoned off and then re-spun in the centrifuge machine for further concentration.
- Buffering: The sperm is stored in a buffering solution that mimics the fluid from a woman’s fallopian tubes (where fertilization occurs).
- Conception: The sample is used at the specific time that the doctor indicates. By bypassing the vagina and cervix and selecting the highest quality sperm near the fallopian tubes where fertilization occurs, there is an increased likelihood that high-functioning sperm will fertilize the egg. Sperm washing can also be used before IVF or IVF with ICSI so that the embryologist can easily pick the best sperm for use.
What else do I need to be aware of?
If you are allergic to any antibiotics, it is essential to tell us that information before sperm washing. In addition, we advise that you abstain from sex for at least two days before your semen collection but no more than five days. We will give you additional instructions on collection and storage for optimal results and are happy to answer any other questions you may have. You can reach our Frisco, TX office at (972) 616-4477.