The Insemination Games

I’m really not good at speaking with strangers. Small talk just bores me to tears.  I gave up trying to socialize at bars, because I can’t stand it. I’ll sit there and watch two people carry on a conversation when clearly, to me, neither of them knows what the hell they are talking about. I’ve tried joining their conversation if the topic was one I found interesting. Politely steering them away from ideas like hurricanes are government conspiracies. Only to be looked at as the jerk for ruining their fun conversation of ignorance. Sure there are a few interesting people to talk to once in a while.  But you never know until you actually talk to them if they are a person who actually knows their facts, or one who just makes stuff up as they go. That being said, I do enjoy once in a while pretending to know more than I actually do. 

Obviously since I’m actually dealing with severe male factor infertility, I must know more than those who’ve actually studied it for years right. (Hey, quit ruining my fun and just go with it as fact!)

Anyways, during our meeting last Thursday with the doctor, I realised how fundamentally flawed the sperm selection process for ICSI truly is. The process is completely superficial.

The doctor explained the process to me and it goes something like this. The semen is taken out of the cup and spun around so the sperm cells are concentrated. Under a microscope, they find the sperm then add an agent to increase the viscosity of the liquid the sperm are swimming in. This slows the speed of the sperm allowing them to be caught and injected into an egg. How does the specialist choose which sperm to catch? The ones that “look good” based on experience and training of the person. Somehow they just know which sperm are healthy.

I immediately thought, “Well obviously looks aren’t everything or this wouldn’t be the reason for our failed IVF.” As the doctor moved onto topics my ADD found boring. I considered ways to isolate the few healthy ones (I’m sure I have some in there somewhere) from the duds. Just like searching for a good conversation at a bar, you can’t expect to find one just based on looks. Sure your chances of a good conversation are better with someone who looks healthy.  But would you really want to spend thousands of dollars looking for a good conversation for the next 20 years based on looking at the individual for only a few seconds?

Then I thought about how it happens naturally. The army of sperm is deposited in the arena. They fight and race for the finish line where there can be only one winner and the rest die. Nature has already figured out how to eliminate the unhealthy ones from the rest. Now that doesn’t mean the winner has the best DNA. We all have that one relative where we wonder how their sperm form ended up winning the race. But I’m guessing it is more likely to have what it takes to create a baby.

Why not have the Insemination Games? In the simplest form it would be a race.

Put whatever attracts sperm at the finish line and as they hit the viscous solution, pick from those for ICSI use. I would feel better about my chances if my sperm actually had to prove themselves in some fashion besides “looking good” to someone under a microscope. There has to be something out there.

While looking for information on poor sperm quality I found a new test that checks DNA fragmentation and there may be possible treatments to help reduce the oxidative stress causing the DNA fragmentation.  Now I’m left with how do I find which fertility firms are using this process and do I just go with them? Or do I contact our current doctor and see if they are considering an upgrade that could check for DNA fragmentation?

Where would I go to find this information? The internet isn’t being helpful and I feel weird asking our clinic to help us find another firm that is more advanced in treating Male Factor Infertility.

I guess I’ll just keep googling until I find something.

© copyright 2011-2012

About ivfmale

Just a guy dealing with infertility.

Posted on October 8, 2012, in Purgatory and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. infertilitydoessuck

    I actually know a person who did the tests for DNA fragmentation and that was the major issue for them getting pregnant

  2. This has been bothering me as well. We had a better fertilization rate without ICSI than with it.

    Have you tried on The Bump boards for recommendations for a clinic? I know I’ve seen multiple people talking about the DNA fragmentation test there.

  3. I think that there is NO problem asking your fertility clinic to help you find a specialist. . . if they are not male factor specialists, they should be obligated to do so. It’s just good customer service. . . they may even be impressed that you did your homework. Hang in there!

  4. I’m wondering how much the DNA fragmentation test costs. I’ll have to start doing research on that myself. I haven’t looked into it because I feel the cost might just be too much. But if we only do IVF one more time, it might be worth it.

  5. Our clinic outsources and uses this company for their DNA fragmentation tests-
    When we had it done, it cost about $500 out of pocket.

  6. I just happened upon your blog, and I really like it. I also know that while you might feel weird asking your clinic or dr about what protocols they are using, I think you should just go for it. Seriously, and if that makes you feel weird just call some different well known clinics and see what they are doing about it!

  7. I’ve been worried about the ICSI selection process too, since they also use ICSI for PGD. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it has to do with DNA contamination. I’m going to ask my RE about this. Let the Insemination Games begin!

    • From reading your blog, they want to do ICSI to avoid DNA contamination, but they still expect a 50% rate the fertilized ones will be bad anyway? Maybe I read it wrong. I’ve been known to do that. There might be something they can see to avoid known contaminated sperm, raising the odds on the good looking sperm that may or may not have the problem.

      All I know is in nature it is a race to win or die. In the lab it’s a fashion show. Something is missing!

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