Sperm Selection Techniques
Sperm capacitation consists of various physiological changes that sperm undergo to acquire the capacity to fertilize an egg. In natural circumstances, the fertilizing capacity is attained during the sperm’s trajectory through the female reproductive system. In an Assisted Reproduction laboratory, capacitation is achieved through either the swim-ip technique or by density gradients.
DNA Sperm Fragmentation Test: This technique is not used to improve the sperm: but rather it is a diagnostic test, complementary to a sperm analysis that provides information when studying the male factor. What this test does, is it assesses the DNA that is in the sperm head even when the DNA is fragmented. If the values of this test are not within normal ranges, many times this can be the cause of implantation failure, compromised embryo development, embryonic arrest and miscarriages.
There are ways to moderate the effects of DNA fragmentation. Antioxidants are recommended before treatment. On egg retrieval day, different techniques can be used such as PICSI or Fertile Chip to improve selection of those sperm that are not fragmented. Each one of these techniques is recommended in specific cases, so the test performed wil depend on the type of sample that we have at the time of retrieval.
PICSI or Physiological ICSI is a technique used for sperm selection based on the sperm’s affinity for hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is found in granulosa cells that cover the egg. The technique involves using a special plate that contains hyaluronic acid. The best sperm and those who have the greatest affinity for the plate (thus also the egg) will stick to the plate and therefore will be the ones selected.
Fertile Chip: a technique that allows sperm selection based on motility. this technique utilizes a chip with two chambers connected by a microfluid canal This procedure consists of putting the sperm sample (a short time after sperm collection) at the entrance opening and those sperm that are able to get to the exit chamber will be the ones used for microinjection
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Frequently Asked Questions
Male infertility is usually related to a small sperm count or alterations in the movement or morphology of the sperm. Another factor that affects make sterility is varicocele, which are varicose veins in the scrotum that affect sperm production. A testicular trauma, undescended testicles and homonal imbalances can also cause problems with fertility. Sometimes, the presence of other illnesses such as diabetes, central nervous system diseases or hipophysary tumors can also present challenges to fertility.
There are some studies that can be administered in order to diagnose, with more certainty, the sperm quality, such as FISH or the fragmentation test. It is important to note that these tests are not 100% conclusive, despite showing alterations.
It is, however, worth noting as well that they help in deciding the best option for the couple- from using donor sperm to conducting a preimplantational genetic diagnosis, to an IVF cycle. At our clinic, we are prepared to offer the best genetic guidance, given our professionals’ extensive experience and our proven good track record.