Studies wordwide have shown that 15-20% of couples have difficulty having a child. The causes of infertility are many: in some cases there are problems only in women (problems with ovulation, fallopian tubes or endometrium) while in other cases only in men (problems with sperm quality or sexual disorders). However, there are cases in which the couple is childless because of problems in both the man and the woman. In recent years, thanks to assisted reproduction methods, many couples will be able to have a child, thus overcoming the problems of their infertility.
In in vitro fertilization (IVF), after stimulation of the ovaries, the oocytes are collected – the doctor transfers the oocytes out of the woman’s body – and they are placed on a petri dish, along with the husband’s spermatozoa, to create the fetus. There are cases, such as problems with a woman’s fallopian tubes or a very small number of spermatozoa in her husband’s sperm sample in which IVF is the only way to overcome the fertility problem.
However, there are cases in which in vitro fertilization is not necessary and the couple can achieve the desired pregnancy with the help of other methods that are not as expensive or troublesome as IVF. One such example is intrauterine insemination (IUI). For example, when the husband’s sperm has a low number of spermatozoa, or their motility is impaired, then IUI could be the method of choice for the couple.
In intrauterine insemination, the gynecologist takes care of the ovulation and determines the time that the oocyte will be released from the ovary. At that time the semen sample must be placed in the uterus. The spermatozoa will meet the oocyte and, if all goes well, a new embryo will form.
PREPARING A SEMEN SAMPLE FOR IUI
As already mentioned the gynecologist will prepare he ovary and determine the time that the oocyte will be released.
At this moment the semen sample should undergo a specific treatment, because the neat sample cannot be inserted into the uterus. During this treatment the spermatozoa are separated from the seminal plasma with the use of either swim-up technique or the use of density-gradient cetrifugation. When the spermatozoa are removed from the seminal plasma their motility changes. As shown in the following video the spermatozoa have a faster motility after the density-gradient separation as compared to the original sample.
When a semen sample has a good number of spermatozoa with good motility after the treatment for intrauterine insemination the end result can be a sample that has almost one hundred percent fast forward moving spermatozoa.