Analyzing Your Reproductive Health
Andrology and Other Laboratory Services and Procedures at the Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, PC
At Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, PC, we realize that every couple has individual needs when it comes to infertility treatments. We offer a number of services to meet each patient's unique needs, including:
Andrology - Comprehensive Semen Analysis
Our andrology laboratory provides several different tests for male reproductive health. A quantitative analysis of semen will analyze several key qualities to gauge fertility:
- Concentration of sperm: normally higher than 20 million sperm per milliliter
- Total sperm count; normally greater than 40 million (total number of sperm in ejaculate)
- Motility: the percentage of mobile sperm, normally 50 percent or higher
- Morphology: the shape of the sperm; at least 15% as "normal" by Kruger’s strict morphology standards
- Volume: normally, each ejaculation should contain at least 2 milliliters
- Total motile count: total number of moving sperm in each ejaculate; should be at least 20 million motile
- Standard semen fluid test: measures color, viscosity, and the time until semen liquefies against the norms established by the World Health Organization
- Specialty testing is also available for low mortality, no sperm and round cell determination
Intrauterine Insemination (Artificial Insemination) Procedure
For couples dealing with mild male-factor infertility, endometriosis, anovulatory infertility, cervical infertility, some unexplained infertility, or immunological abnormalities, intrauterine insemination may be the easiest form of assisted reproductive technology available.
Just as in IVF, the woman's ovaries are stimulated with medication to induce multiple egg development. The semen is processed to remove all seminal fluids and cellular debris after specimen collection and, with the use of a very thin, soft catheter, is placed either in the cervix or high in the uterine cavity.
Sperm Processing for Insemination
Natural semen is not used for intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization procedures; it must be purified to separate the most useful, mobile sperm from any unnecessary seminal fluid, white blood cells, and cellular debris. Sperm processing also removes prostaglandins, lipid compounds that may cause cramping when injected into the uterus, from the semen. There are several methods of sperm processing, including the swim-up method, density gradient separation, and buffered washing.
By placing the concentrated and purified sperm high in the uterus, better pregnancy rates can be obtained in several fertility conditions using intrauterine insemination.
Embryo culture is the word used to describe the process that begins immediately after the removal of the eggs from the ovaries. During the embryo culture process, the eggs are combined with the partner or donor sperm to produce a fertilized egg (called a zygote). Once the egg has been fertilized, the culture process continues to promote embryo formation from the zygote. Lasting between two and five days, the embryo culture process is vital to the success of any IVF procedure.
Cryopreservation is an effective method of storing sperm and semen for long periods of time while maintaining the viability of the sperm. The sample is cooled and stored in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of about -196C. Cryopreservation allows a couple to use the same sample of sperm for multiple attempts at pregnancy, or for use in artificial insemination at a later date.
Just like semen cryopreservation, embryo cryopreservation stores the embryo(s) almost indefinitely to preserve its viability for future IVF cycles.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
If the sperm has a low fertilizing capacity or their numbers are low, in order for fertilization to take place, the sperm needs to be actually injected into the egg. In order to do this, the mature egg is held in place with a specialized pipette. A very small hollow needle immobilizes and picks up a single sperm and inserts it through the shell of the egg, and the needle is then removed very carefully. The following day, the egg is checked for evidence of fertilization.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)
GIFT is similar to IVF in that the eggs are removed from the ovaries and mixed with sperm in a laboratory. The main difference, however, lies in the fact that the mixture of gametes (eggs and sperm) is then placed into the fallopian tubes for fertilization to occur, rather than in the laboratory. The embryo can then form and grow from the start in a natural environment. However, this process is only available to women who have at least one healthy fallopian tube.
Tubal Embryo Transfer
Tubal embryo transfer is similar to GIFT in that the embryos are placed in the fallopian tubes; however, the egg is fertilized prior to injection into the fallopian tube. This procedure is recommended for women and couples who wish to make the IVF process as natural as possible, but for whom there is doubt as to the chances of fertilization in the fallopian tubes.
Assisted Hatching (AH)
Each embryo is surrounded by an outer coating called the zona pellucida, which holds the cells of the embryo together. This outer coating should dissolve once the embryo arrives in the uterus. However, some embryos have abnormally thick or hardened pellucida, and these embryos need help to implant in the walls of the uterus. Assisted hatching is a process of thinning the shell just before placing the embryo in the uterus to increase the chance of pregnancy.
Third Party Donation
Third party donated sperm is available at the Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, PC. Donor insemination is another service we offer to help meet couples' unique fertility needs.
Contact Us for More Information
For more information about our laboratory services, or to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled fertility doctors, contact us today.
We would like to remind visitors to our website that the information provided on the site is intended for educational purposes only. Egg donation, IVF, and all other assistive reproductive technologies (ART) are safe and effective, but they are also very complicated procedures. If you are considering either donating eggs or seeking ART procedures as a means to achieve pregnancy, please contact our practice to learn more and to find out whether you might be a good candidate.
Each and every staff member at Heartland Center is tremendous. Dr. Maclin is a woman of grace, and a terrific medical doctor. She is a world-class surgeon, and we are so grateful to know her.Lene - IVF Patient