What Is Sperm Washing? (And Other Common Questions About Sperm)

On average, one milliliter of semen contains 15 million to more than 200 million sperm. It only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, but the journey it must take to reach that egg can be incredibly challenging. An egg released by a follicle will only stay in the fallopian tube for about 24 hours. If sperm can’t reach the egg and fertilize it, pregnancy won’t happen that month. When male infertility is a factor, then it’s even more difficult for a couple to get pregnant naturally, which is why so many turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Sperm washing is one part of that process.

What is sperm washing?

Sperm washing is the processing that semen goes through before it can be used in an assisted reproduction procedure, like IVF or intrauterine insemination (IUI). The washing technique separates sperm from semen, and also eliminates dead or otherwise unviable sperm from the usable sample. Additionally, prostaglandins are removed from the sperm. These are naturally occurring chemicals that can interfere with fertility.

I know women must give up alcohol before pregnancy, but what about men?

Alcohol consumption affects male fertility as well as female fertility. Men who consume alcohol regularly or to excess are at a higher risk of reduced sperm quality and quantity. Fortunately, the effects are quickly reversed once you abstain from alcohol.

Does my body weight affect my sperm?

Yes. Men who are either underweight or overweight have a higher risk of male infertility. Overweight and obesity can affect the production of sperm, causing a low sperm count. Your body weight can also affect the quality of sperm.

What about body temperature?

Excessive heat can significantly affect your sperm count. If you’re trying to become a father, you should avoid hot tubs and saunas. Avoid placing sources of heat near your scrotal region. These include laptops and heating pads.

When you become a patient at the Center for Vasectomy Reversal , you’ll have the option to have sperm aspirated for use in an IVF cycle. Dr. Green will explain all of your options during your consultation. Call our vasectomy reversal clinic in Sarasota at (941) 894-6428.

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