Semen Collection For IVF – In Vitro Fertilization
On the day of the egg retrieval the embryologists prefer the male partner to collect at Ovation Fertility Austin (OVA), if possible. The reason for this is that the semen sample can be contaminated with bacteria when it is collected, no matter where it is collected. So, ideally, it is best to begin the sperm washing procedure as soon as possible in order to remove the quality sperm from the seminal plasma which may contain bacteria.
Approximately one hour after a couple arrives at Austin Fertility Surgical Center, the egg retrieval will begin. The nurses will wheel the female partner back to the procedure room as the male partner waits in their room. If the husband is going to collect his semen sample at our Austin IVF lab, the embryologist will come to get the male partner around this time. The male partner will provide the embryologist with a picture ID and then will be escorted to the collection room by the embryologist. After he collects his sample, the male partner will return to the couple’s room and wait for his partner to return from her egg retrieval.
It is very important for patients to collect their semen sample by masturbation in order to avoid the contact with any bodily fluid from the male or the female partner. This is because all bodily fluids (saliva, vaginal fluids) contain bacteria. These bacteria can harm sperm in small numbers. There is an added problem with bacterial contamination in the in vitro fertilization procedure. That is, during insemination, the washed sperm will be placed in a small drop with the eggs for 18 hours. This insemination process takes place in the incubator which is at body temperature. This dark, moist environment will promote the growth of bacteria and cause the eggs to die in culture. This is very different from the intrauterine insemination technique, where the sperm have to swim through the uterine tissue fluids and into the Fallopian tubes before they arrive at the site where the egg is. This traveling through fluids helps to dilute or completely wash away any bacteria that are present around the sperm.
The problem is even worse when intra-cytoplasmic injection (ICSI) must be used to accomplish fertilization. In this technique, sperm are injected directly into each egg in our Austin IVF laboratory. If there are bacteria around the sperm, they will be picked up with the sperm-injecting pipette and be injected directly into the egg. The bacteria are so small that they may not even be seen and they will cause the egg to die.
Another concern with collecting sperm for IVF is the lubricant that may be used during masturbation. The lubricant that is available at OVA is non-toxic to sperm. This is very important for keeping sperm swimming during the insemination process. Other lotions are almost always toxic and will kill or disable sperm at a time that is very critical for the success of the procedure. These chemicals that are present in lotions can also be carried with the sperm to the eggs and kill or severely injure them.
When a male partner collects his semen sample at our Austin IVF lab by masturbation with the provided lubricant, it is exposed to fewer environmental hazards and is examined and processed in the appropriate amount of time after it has been collected.