Sperm Collection and Preparation

Fertility Treatment Options
Key Points

  • Sperm collection for fertility treatment happens usually through masturbation.
  • In some cases, special condoms, electroejaculation or surgery can be used to collect sperm.
  • The lab will prepare the sperm for IUI/IVF/ICSI.
Sperm collection and preparation is part of the assisted reproduction techniques: IUI and IVF.

Adequate collection and optimal preparation can affect the number of good quality sperm that could fertilize the egg and develop into an embryo.

Sperm Collection

Sperm collection consists in obtaining sperm, usually through masturbation, for assisted reproduction techniques. Using masturbation, the sample is collected directly to a clean cup. This is usually performed at the fertility clinic, in a private area.

There are also special non toxic collection condoms which are special condoms that allow sperm collection through sexual intercourse. Commercial condoms cannot be used.

When a man doesn’t have sperm in the ejaculate, sperm can be collected by surgical extraction. Surgery involves local anaesthesia and/or sedation and collecting sperm from the epididymis (PESA) or from the testicles (TESE). These techniques are performed as day cases and can be used when the man had a vasectomy, when there is an obstruction, when there are ejaculatory problems or there is low sperm count.

It’s important that you do not have any sexual activity (ejaculation) for at least two days but not more than five days before obtaining the semen sample.

Sperm Preparation

Once collected, the fertility clinic must handle the sample with care. A good lab will use quality controlled, non-toxic dishes, pipettes and tubes that are safe and not harmful for human reproductive cells.

Sperm will be kept in a solution with carbohydrates and amino acids, so it gets the nutrients and energy to survive. Both fresh and frozen sperm can be used for IVF/ICSI/IUI, and both present similar pregnancy and live birth rates.

You may need to use frozen sperm if:

  • You’re doing repeat IVF cycles: frozen sperm increases convenience and affordability
  • In case of male fertility preservation: in cases of cancer, or medical treatment that compromises fertility, freezing sperm is a way of preserving fertility for the future.
  • In donor sperm: if you need to use donor sperm from a sperm bank it will be frozen.
If you are trying to find the right clinic to start fertility investigations or to help you getting pregnant, click on the image below and know the fertility clinics that are our partners.
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