Sperm Function Tests

Sperm Function Tests help you and your physician determine the next step in your reproductive  care.  Do you have enough sperm that can be purified for an Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI)?  Do they survive well (are they “hardy”)?

Diagnostic IUI (Recovery & Survival Test). This is a “mock” IUI preparation which gives you two pieces of information: (1) Total number of sperm likely to be available during an IUI preparation (at least 5-10 million motile is good); and (2) How well do these sperm survive for 24 hours?  (At least 70% corresponds with pregnancies in IUI cycles, when sufficient numbers of sperm are inseminated). 

Reference: Branigan, E.F., M.A. Estes and C.H. Muller  1999  Advanced semen analysis: A simple screening test to predict intrauterine insemination success.  Fertil. Steril. 71:547-551.

Some tests help determine if your sperm are likely to function well during natural conception and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). If they don’t, then you may want to consider Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), in which a single sperm is injected into the egg.

Acrosome Reaction Assay. Sperm must be stimulated to lose the acrosome (like a cap on their head), releasing enzymes that help sperm digest their way through the zona pellucida around the egg. Sperm reacting too soon or not at all will not be able to fertilize the egg.       

Hyperactivation Assay. Sperm must be able to go into a “whiplash”-like motility pattern to help them get through the zona pellucida.   If either of these two tests show poor results, there is a chance that your sperm may not be able to fertilize an egg on their own, and ICSI may be the best choice.    
    NOTE: There is no guarantee that your sperm will fertilize normally if they pass these tests, since there are many other steps to fertilization that could go wrong.       

Other Tests of Sperm Functions