Sperm washing is the procedure used to prepare sperm for use in IUI. It may sound strange, but it ensures that only the healthiest sperm are used during the procedure. It allows sperm a better chance for survival and fertilization. Sperm washing takes place in the fertility clinic’s laboratory where they separate sperm cells from a man’s semen. This procedure helps to get rid of dead or slow moving sperm as well as eliminate additional chemicals that may impair fertilization. Sperm that has been washed, leaving only the remaining fast and good quality sperm, can be used during IUI (Intra-uterine insemination or artificial insemination) to help achieve pregnancy. There are a variety of different procedures.
Why is Sperm Washing Necessary?
Raw semen cannot be inserted directly into a woman’s uterus because semen contains chemicals called prostaglandins. Sperm must be washed in order to be used with IUI. Prostaglandins cause muscular contractions and are responsible for cramps during menstruation and pregnancy. Raw semen inserted directly into your uterus could cause severe pain and cramping; naturally it should go through the cervix first. If it is inserted directly into the uterus, it could also cause your uterus to collapse as well as cause severe complications.
Sperm washing also increases your chances of becoming pregnant. Dead sperm and sperm with poor motility are removed. The sperm that remains can swim faster and are more likely to fertilize your egg. It can also get rid of the white blood cells, mucous and seminal fluid surrounding the sperm, which can also interfere with fertility.
Who Can Benefit From Sperm Washing?
- Anyone who pursues IUI
- Unexplained infertility
- Male factor infertility
- Women with endometriosis
- Men with anti-sperm antibodies
If any of these above factors are familiar to you, you can discuss sperm washing and the appropriate fertility treatment that is suitable to you.