Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 March 2010
These sperm processing procedures can generally be considered common to both intrauterine insemination (IUI) and assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures.
Sperm washing is the primary method for seminal plasma removal from the sperm. Should difficulties arise, or sperm quality pose a further need for enhancement, then additional sperm treatment methods should be implemented.
In situations where sperm must be preserved for future use, semen cryopreservation is employed to freeze sperm for longterm storage:
Sperm washing procedure
Sperm washing, employing dilution and then centrifugation, is the primary procedure for separating sperm from seminal plasma.
The rationale for removing sperm from the seminal plasma is twofold:
Removal of decapacitation factor(s) and other detrimental elements; and
Concentration of all sperm within the ejaculate
Sperm washing for most semen samples begins with an initial four- to fivefold media dilution (see below) of the original seminal plasma, especially for those samples containing high sperm concentration or extremely high viscosity.
If a semen sample contains low sperm concentration in relatively high volume, then a relatively low dilution rate is necessary. Note that significantly high dilution procedures might require protein supplementation.
Media and protein supplementation
Recommendations for media and protein supplementation are somewhat arbitrary and subject to laboratory personnel opinion.