by Dr Agilan Arjunan
Gone are the days where infertility is mainly a women’s problem. Men contribute about 40-50% of causes of infertility.
Majority of men have sperm but the problem lies with the total number and quality of their sperm. Some men have oligospermia (low sperm count) , asthenospermia ( less motile sperms) or teratospermia ( abnormal sperms). Vast majority of men has a combination of these problems. A minority of them has no sperm at all , known as azoospermia.
In any fertility treatment , the objective is always to get the best sperm possible to fertilise the woman’s eggs. This gives rise to a better quality embryo and a higher pregnancy rate.
But how do we choose the best sperm? Current standard of sperm sorting is called centrifugation. In this method the sperm sample is spinned in a centrifuge and the motile sperms are selected. In this process , the dead and abnormal sperms are discarded. However, this still does not guarantee that the best sperm has been selected.
A recent development in sperm sorting technique is the utilisation of ‘microfluidic technology’. In a natural sperm selection in a woman’s womb, only about 10 sperms managed to reach an egg. What started with millions of sperms boils down to just a few sperms. There appear to be a ‘natural filtration’ process taking place where all the dead,abnormal and slow moving sperms are filtered out.
The microfluidic technology utilises the same concept. In this technique, the researcher from Florida Atlantic University has designed a simple filtration mechanism using a porous membrane.
In this method, the semen sample will be filtered through a porous membrane . Only the best sperms will be able to swim through the porous membrane and will be collected for fertility treatment.
I hope this device will be available commercially very soon and thus help to choose the best sperm and directly improves pregnancy rate.
You can read more here : https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160616105724.htm