Sperm Washing is an important procedure which is completed before the artificial insemination. Human sperm contains some impurity like chemicals. These chemicals can affect future pregnancy and also can cause adverse reaction in the female’s uterus. Hence it is necessary to wash sperms in the laboratory before using it. Sperm Washing is a procedure in which individual’s sperms are separated from the semen. Then washed sperms are used in the artificial insemination procedure by using intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques. Sperm washing is a standard procedure in infertility treatment.
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Benefits of Sperm washing
Techniques of Sperm Washing
Sperm washing procedure is performed at laboratory. It is takes place after the sperm donation. Sperm washing mainly involves removing the seminal plasma, cryoprotectant and other impurities present in semen. Sperm washing can be performed on a single specimen before starting intrauterine insemination (IUI) therapy. Most common Sperm washing techniques include:
Basic Sperm Wash
Basic Sperm technique uses dilution and centrifugation. A sperm wash solution containing antibiotics and protein supplements is added to the ejaculate. After repeated centrifugation, the seminal fluid is eliminated from the sample and the sperm cells are concentrated for insemination. This procedure takes 20 to 40 minutes.
Premium wash method uses density gradient centrifugation technique to isolate and purify the motile sperm for obtaining sperm sample with a motility of at least 90% depending on the initial quality of the sample. Different concentrations of isolate (extremely dense fluid) are layered in a test tube in an ascending order of density (heaviest layer at the bottom). When a semen sample is placed upon the upper-most isolate layer and centrifuged then any debris, round cells, non-motile and poor quality sperm remain in the top layers. Only the motile sperm are collected at the bottom layer and are then concentrated for use in artificial insemination. This procedure takes about 1 hour. The premium sperm wash technique is excellent for fresh or frozen sperm and can help in the assessment of male fertility.
Swim –Up Technique
This technique uses sperm self-migration to obtain a sperm sample with a motility of at least 90%, depending on the initial quality of the sample. A layer of fresh media is gently added to the semen sample in such a way that most of the motile sperm comes out of the sample and upside into the added media. These harvested motile sperm are subsequently used for insemination. This procedure takes around 2 hours. Oligozoospermic men (men with low sperm counts), men with poorly motile sperm as well as men with male-factor infertility are not suitable candidates for this technique.
Sperm washing for Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Sperm washing is part of the IUI treatment. After sexual intercourse, sperm travels a long way towards an egg. By the time sperm reaches the uterus, chemical called prostaglandins is naturally eliminated, because prostaglandin causes strong uterine contractions if it comes into contact with the uterus. In IUI treatment, sperm washing is necessary to eliminate prostaglandins as IUI involves a direct injection of sperm into the uterus. Healthy sperm can also separate from those with an abnormal shape, size or speed. A washed specimen can be safely stored for a couple of hours before artificial insemination.
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