Over the past seven years, advances in IVF science specifically for male infertility issues have significantly improved the chances of men with such problems becoming fathers.
Dr Ashish Das, co-founding partner and fertility specialist at City Fertility Centre, said that seven years ago the most advanced method of identifying the best sperm was to look down a microscope and visually select it, but that had now changed.
“We can now run scientific tests on the sperm to check for things like high levels of DNA fragmentation, which reduce the chance of a pregnancy, or run a test called PICSI to select which sperm has the highest chances of binding to and hence fertilising an egg,” he said.
Explaining sperm DNA fragmentation, Dr Das said the development of a healthy embryo began when the chromosomes from the female egg came together with chromosomes from the male sperm. These chromosomes consisted of strands of DNA that could sometimes be damaged and reduce the chance of a successful pregnancy.
Dr Das said when specialised testing discovered the sperm DNA was fragmented, strategies could be implemented to obtain other, non-fragmented sperm.
He said PICSI (Percutaneous Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) testing of sperm checked for functionality by placing a drop of prepared sperm in a special dish containing a substance that resembled the human egg shell. The sperm that bound to this substance was then selected for injection into the egg via a process called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). With this method, the embryologists were using the better-quality sperm, resulting in a greater chance of pregnancy.
Dr Das said just these two advances in sperm selection had helped reduce the number of couples who needed donor sperm by about 30 per cent over the past seven years.
“These medical advances have brought about huge happiness for many men who, as a result of the tests, have become fathers,” he said.