IUI is a form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). IUI is used as a way to assist couples who are having difficulties conceiving. It involves placing sperm into the uterus, using a special catheter. There are a few ways to prepare the sperm, this article will break it down.
Why are Sperm Prepared as Part of IUI?
Sperm is prepared prior to insertion in the process of IUI. By preparing the samples, immature and immotile sperm will be filtered out, thereby increasing the concentration of healthy, motile sperm being placed close to the oocyte (egg). Also, the cervix usually acts a barrier to seminal fluid – so by preparing the sample, there is less for the cervical barrier to react to. Seminal fluid contains not only sperm, but also white blood cells, bacteria and dead spermatozoa – all of which would produce oxygen radicals that negatively influence the ability of the sperm to fertilize the egg . Furthermore, using fresh, unprepared semen has been reported to cause uterine cramps and may induce pelvic inflammatory disease, endometritis, cervicitis or vaginitis as well as an increased likelihood of miscarriage or premature delivery .
Ways Sperm are Prepared for Intrauterine Insemination
- Wash Technique: Sperm are washed in a simple protein-rich, antibiotic fluids
- Gradient Technique: A density gradient sperm wash using a centrifuge
- Wash-up Technique: A swim up technique in which only the fastest sperm are selected
What Technique is Best?
The frustrating thing is there is no clear answer.
The most important factor is live birth rates, and there is simply not enough research to show a significant difference. It’s well established that sperm preparation is important, but we don’t know which technique is truly best.
It is important to know because as you’re undergoing IUI, your fertility clinic may have a protocol in place based on their unique success of birth rates. They may tend to use one technique over the other based on their experience. Therefore it’s best to trust your fertility experts recommendations.
Interested in learning more?
Read on in our series of articles on Fertility!
About the Author - Dr. Johann de Chickera
Dr. Johann is a fully licensed Naturopathic Doctor. His approach emphasizes the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and improving one’s health naturally. Dr. Johann obtained a Doctor of Naturopathy at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). Education at CCNM is a vigorous four years, with a curriculum involving biomedical sciences, physical diagnosis, clinical nutrition, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, botanical (herbal) medicine, physical medicine, homeopathy and lifestyle management.
While Dr. Johann has a general practice, he focuses on fertility, hormonal imbalances, gut health, and autoimmune disease.
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