Sperm washing is a procedure used to prepare sperm for use in IUI. It allows your partner’s sperm a better chance for survival and fertilization. Sperm washing separates sperm cells from a man’s semen, helping to get rid of dead or slow-moving sperm as well as additional chemicals that may impair fertilization. Once sperm has been washed at your fertility clinic’s laboratory, it can be used during IUI to help achieve pregnancy. There are a variety of different sperm washing procedures.

Why is Sperm Washing Necessary?

Sperm must be washed in order to be used with IUI. Raw semen cannot be inserted directly into a woman’s uterus. This is because semen contains chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins cause muscular contractions and are responsible for cramps during menstruation and pregnancy. If raw semen is inserted directly into your uterus, rather than going through the cervix first, it could cause severe pain and cramping. It could also cause your uterus to collapse, causing severe complications.

Sperm is also washed in order to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Sperm washing can remove dead sperm and those sperm with poor motility. This leaves behind sperm that can swim faster and that are more likely to fertilize your egg. Sperm washing can also get rid of the white blood cells, mucous and seminal fluid surrounding the sperm, which can also interfere with fertility.

Who Can Benefit From Sperm Washing?

Anyone who pursues IUI will receive the sperm washing procedure. However, the procedure can also benefit others, especially those with:

• unexplained infertility
• male-factor infertility
• women with endometriosis
• men with antisperm antibodies