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What is Sperm Washing?
Sperm washing is the procedure to separate sperm from other components in the seminal fluid before the washed sperm is used in intrauterine insemination (IUI).
What are the types of Sperm Washing?
Sperm washing is carried out using the following procedures:
Who is a suitable candidate for Sperm Washing?
- Simple sperm washing: Sperm is collected from the male partner through masturbation or surgical sperm retrieval. Sperm is diluted with a combination of antibiotics and chemicals. Sperm is spun in a centrifuge machine and sperm cells are pushed to the bottom to be collected. The washed sperm is tested and inserted into the female while she is ovulating.
- Density gradient sperm washing: Sperm is collected from the male partner through masturbation or surgical sperm retrieval. This technique separates sperm cells from waste products in the semen by using different layers and densities of liquid in the test tube and spinning the sperm in a centrifuge. Sperm is separated from the waste product and used in IUI.
- Swim up sperm washing: Swim up sperm washing isolates the healthiest sperm by using a layer of culture in a culture dish. Sperm is attracted by the culture and swim up to meet it. Sperm is collected and used in IUI.
Sperm washing is used for couples where the male partner is HIV positive and the female partner is HIV negative, in order to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV through pregnancy.
Sperm washing is also used to prepare sperm for IUI in couples with unexplained infertility, male infertility, and where the man has anti-sperm antibodies.
What are the chances of success with Sperm Washing?
According to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, over 5,000 fertility treatments and inseminations have been carried out using sperm washing and no cases have been reported where the female partner or child has become infected with HIV.
Success rates for IUI increase after sperm washing because only the healthiest sperm are used in the procedure.
Duration of procedure/surgery:
- Simple sperm washing takes around 20 to 40 minutes.
- Density gradient sperm washing takes around one hour.
- Swim up sperm washing procedure takes around two hours.
Number of sessions required:
One session. Washed sperm can be stored for use in future IUI procedures.
None – sperm washing is an outpatient procedure.
Sperm washing doesn’t have a recovery period – patients resume normal activities immediately after sperm is collected.
- No 100 percent guarantee that HIV infection will not be transmitted to the woman or child.
- Washed sperm may not contribute to a viable pregnancy.
Learn more about Sperm Washing