Selecting The Perfect Sperm = Higher Pregnancy Rates
It is well understood it takes a “good” sperm and “good” egg to produce a healthy embryo. Unfortunately, while scientific steps are being gradually made, we cannot, today, easily evaluate the quality of one’s eggs. This requires the utmost attention to be provided to selecting the highest quality sperm for usage with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Multiple studies have proven that sperm quality has a direct impact on early and late embryo development. The Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine is utilizing multiple innovative and unique techniques to select the “best” sperm. The combined techniques are not only improving the selection process but also leading to increased pregnancy rates.
So how does one find the needle in the haystack with the “haystack” simply the entire ejaculate specimen and the “needle” the “good” sperm? Through the utilization of a combination of techniques such as ICSI, PICSI and a unique approach available at MCRM Fertility, the sperm nanobead selection process.
Recommended Sperm at MCRM Fertility
- Sperm Sample Arrives in Lab
- Sperm Wash over Gradient
- Magnetic Nanobead Sperm Selection
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) Process
The ICSI process is standard with all in vitro fertilization procedures at MCRM Fertility. The process injects one, selected sperm into the cytoplasm of an individual oocyte (egg). Initially, a sperm sample is prepared using multiple techniques in order to eliminate poor quality sperm. The remaining specimen of “healthy” sperm is then placed under a high-magnification microscope for visual inspection by an embryologist. The embryologist will then select the “best looking” sperm using a fine glass needle. Next, while continuing to view through the microscope, the embryologist selects and individual oocyte and holds it in place with a specialized pipette. Once the oocyte is held in place, the embryologist uses the fine glass needle with the pre-selected sperm inside and punctures through the shell of the oocyte and into the cytoplasm. Then, slowly and gently the sperm is injected, and the needle removed.
Magnetic Nanobead Selection Process
Today, the MCRM Fertility lab team has a new tool available to help reduce the size of the “haystack”. In Spring 2015, MCRM began to utilize a unique technique that filters a semen sample using Magnetic-Activated Cell Sorting (MACS). The process begins with the addition of magnetic nanobeads to a semen sample. The beads will attach to a sperm whenever particular proteins are present on the surface of the sperm cell. These proteins are early indicators of decay for the sperm leading to an identifier for poor quality. When the sample of sperm and beads is filtered through a magnetic funnel, those sperm with attached beads are pulled away towards the magnetic surface and only the “purest, high-quality” sperm filter through. This new “haystack” is then utilized for the ICSI process and increases the likelihood of only the BEST sperm being selected and utilized.
Preselective Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (PICSI)
A Positive Sperm Selection Process
Preselective Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (PICSI) is a technique that simulates the natural selection of mature sperm, post-Nanobead Sperm Selection, for the process of ICSI. In natural conception, the fertilization of an oocyte only occurs by a sperm that is capable of binding to hyaloronan present on the surface of the oocyte. This interaction can only be achieved by a mature sperm. Hyaluronan is a compound found naturally in the reproductive tract, as well as, other areas of the body and specifically in connecting cells of an oocyte.
The PICSI method includes the addition of small droplets of hyaluronan to a sample of sperm. The sperm that attaches to the hyaluronan is then selected for use in ICSI.
New research published in Clinical Chemistry, has linked repeated miscarriages to sperm with more DNA damage.
Three or more miscarriages before 20 weeks of gestation defined repeated miscarriages and occurred in 1% to 2% of couples. Customarily, the focus is on the women when screening for the underlying cause. The spotlight in recent years has transferred from the mother to the father. While the root of diminished sperm quality proves challenging to identify, there does appear to be a link to previously unexplained miscarriages.