To check the men’s fertility , a sperm analysis is needed. It consists on analysing the ejaculated sample and studying the spermatozoa. It’s necessary that the man gives his seminal sample in a sterile jar. The sperm sample must be obtained through masturbation with the highest hygienic measures possible.
Even though this process is simple, it’s crucial that the sample is obtained correctly, and if there’s any incidence, such as the inability to obtain the whole ejaculated sperm, the laboratory technicians must be informed.
Time of abstinence
In the assisted reproduction clinic some measures will be given to the patient, so that the sample is obtained in the best way possible. Following these indications and informing of any incidence is crucial.
One of the most important indications is to respect the abstinence period, i.e. not ejaculating for some days. The recommended abstinence when doing a sperm analysis is of 3-5 days. To perform an artificial insemination or an IVF the period ranges from 2-7 days, although these indications may vary from centre to centre.
The best would be that the sample was obtained within the centre, in the areas disposed for that function. But for some men, this is too awkward and uncomfortable, and they can’t ejaculate. That’s why it can also be performed at home, and then carry the sample in the sample jar to the laboratory.
The sample must be carried to the laboratory before an hour has gone by. It mustn’t suffer big temperature changes. That’s why it’s recommended to keep it under the arm, in the armpit, until handing it to the staff of the assisted reproduction clinic.
The spermatic capacitation consists on separating the motile spermatozoa from the immotile spermatozoa, so that only the best spermatozoa are used for the assisted reproductive treatment.
If the objective is only to carry out a sperm analysis, this test may not be performed, although many prefer to do it, in order to check how spermatozoa react and know what will happen on the day of the treatment.
In the ejaculated sample, all the spermatozoa are together. There are two techniques to separate the motile from the immotile spermatozoa. These techniques are: swim up and density gradients. Both have been proven to be efficient in several scientific studies. Depending on the quality of the sample and on which technique is preferred by the expert, one or another will be chosen.
Once the capacitation has been carried out, a value named total motile spermatozoa count is obtained. As its name indicates, this value is used to know the quantity of spermatozoa that are motile, and thus able to fertilise the egg.
There is a series of reference values for the total motile spermatozoa count, so that a certain technique counts on good odds, when it comes to achieving pregnancy:
- To perform an artificial insemination by husband, at least 3 million progressive motile spermatozoa/ml are needed.
- To carry out an artificial insemination by donor, at least 5 million progressive motile spermatozoa/ml are required.
- To perform and IVF at least two million progressive motile spermatozoa/ml are needed.
For other techniques, such as ICSI, it’s not that important to have a high value of total motile spermatozoa, since only one spermatozoon per egg is needed and is the expert, the one who chooses it, depending on its characteristics.