Frozen sperm works as well as fresh for ICSI


Frozen sperm retrieved via testicular biopsy is as good as fresh sperm in leading to a successful pregnancy through IVF. This new finding should make it easier to organize IVF procedures and increase options for infertile couples.

Harvesting sperm

For IVF, a harvested egg is fertilized in the laboratory with retrieved sperm. The resulting embryo is then implanted into the woman’s uterus. If a man’s sperm count is low or there is no detectable sperm in his semen at all, then viable sperm must be retrieved directly from the testicle via biopsy. Sperm may then be used either fresh or frozen.

ICSI has presented unique challenges

The procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) puts the sperm directly into the egg through injection. If fresh sperm is used, then the condition of both partners must be synchronized precisely to maximize the changes of successful pregnancy. The man and woman must be ready at the same time. If frozen sperms works just as well, this simplifies the entire procedure. The man and woman can play their roles at different times and even in different places. “The convenience and ease of being able to use frozen sperm taken by biopsy in ICSI offers many advantages over fresh sperm,” explained Kenan Omurtag, first study author and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Pregnancy success rates are very similar

For the study, the team looked at 15 years of data from the Washington University Infertility and Reproductive Medicine Center. Of the 136 men analyzed, 84% of them used frozen sperm while the balance used fresh. Researchers found that frozen sperm performed as well in ICSI in terms of pregnancy success rate. There was a statistically significant difference in fertilization rate however (62% fresh versus 47% frozen).

“This study demonstrates that using frozen sperm taken by biopsy works as well for most patients in what matters most – pregnancy rates,” said Randall Odem, co-author and professor obstetrics and gynecology.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, PLOS ONE


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