Sperm Survival

What is the sperm survival test?
The sperm survival test was developed as a product of in vitro fertilization (IVF) technology as an advanced assay for male infertility problems. It is thought to measure how “fragile” a man’s sperm are in an extended culture environment. It is useful as a cost effective step in the evaluation of men who have mild to moderate abnormalities of their semen analyses.

How is the sperm survival test discovered?
During an IVF treatment cycle, the sperm sample is processed or “washed” to extract all the best sperm and to concentrate them into a special fluid (called media). The processed sperm are then stored in this media in a special incubator for several hours until the eggs are ready for fertilization. Extra sperm are sometimes stored overnight in the incubator and then examined again for survival. Studies on these stored samples have shown a high correlation between this 24-hour sperm survival and successful fertilization and pregnancies in IVF.

How is the sperm survival test done?
A sperm sample is collected and brought to the office similar to a specimen for a semen analysis. The sperm sample is processed in our lab in the same technique as would be used for sperm washing before an intrauterine insemination procedure. Sperm count (number) and motility (movement) are assessed before and after the processing. The sperm sample is placed in a special incubator for 24 hours. The sperm count and motility are again analyzed and compared to the original results. A survival of at least 50% of the sperm with good motility is considered normal.

What does the sperm survival yest yell you?
A normal sperm survival tells us that the sperm are not abnormally fragile and is reassuring that a trial of intrauterine insemination is valuable. An abnormal sperm survival confirms the presence of a significant sperm problem and is an indication for additional testing such as the sperm penetration assay (hamster egg test). As with many of the sperm tests, this test does not always give a clear definitive answer but is very useful in helping to develop a recommendation for your next treatment steps.

How do I arrange for a sperm survival test?
The test can usually be performed Monday through Saturday by prior arrangement with the andrology laboratory. The specimen must be collected into a sterile container and brought to the office at 8:30-9:00 a.m. within 30-60 minutes of collection. To schedule this examination, please call Sharon at our office for assistance.