For males with a low sperm concentration (oligospermia), sperm washing (or IUI preparation) can significantly increase the chance of conception. By washing the semen, the sperm are separated from the seminal proteins and debris that make up the ejaculate. The washed sperm are then deposited directly into the woman’s uterus. This puts the sperm in close proximity to the egg (residing in the Fallopian tube) compared to depositing the sperm into the vaginal canal such as with sexual intercourse or ICI (intra-cervical insemination).
The total motile sperm concentration can indicate which method of conception is most appropriate for the couple; if the male’s sperm concentration is:
- Greater than 20 million motile sperm, natural intercourse or can be considered
- Between 5-20 million motile sperm, artificial insemination should be considered
- Less than 5 million motile sperm, in-vitro fertilization should be considered, pooling might be an option
Another type of washing method that is offered at the Fertility Center of California is the sex selection. This washing method is helpful at increasing the chance of conceiving a child of the desired sex. It is best performed on fresh samples and is not recommended for those that are already experiencing infertility concerns.
Freezing for Use at a Later Date
For the couples that are ready to expand their family but are being hindered by conflicting schedules, we can help. Conception does not have to wait until a hectic schedule settles down (which may not happen anytime soon!). If the male partner is going to be out of town or even deployed, conception can still be pursued.
In these instances, the male would collect several samples prior to travel so that these samples can be washed and frozen. Once a sample is frozen, it can remain frozen indefinitely.
The female can then track her cycle and have an insemination performed with her partner’s frozen sperm sample when she ovulates. If her partner’s trip gets cancelled or postponed, the samples can simply remain in storage until needed.