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Predicting Your Chances of Getting Pregnant with IVF: Sperm Factors

a blog by Mylene Yao, M.D., CEO and Co-Founder, Univfy, Inc., May 7, 2013

In the previous post, we talked about ovarian fertility factors that must be considered together to get a complete picture of whether you are likely to become pregnant with IVF. Your ovarian reserve and your previous response to gonadotropins, along with your chronological age are all contributors to your fertility. With so much emphasis on the female, we should not forget the male side of things. We also need healthy sperm to create healthy embryos.

Your partner’s sperm number and sperm quality are significant fertility factors we consider when predicting whether IVF will work for you. Total motile sperm count is one indicator of male infertility that impacts your chances of successful IVF. Motile sperm are those sperm that have the ability to swim. This is a critical function for the fertilization of an egg. The total motile count refers to the total number of swimming sperm in the ejaculate.

When sperm count and motility are extremely low, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is often used to manually inject each egg with one sperm. Total motile sperm count persists as a powerful predictor for success with IVF in our prediction model, even when ICSI is used. That suggests that this factor may be correlated with other sperm quality factors that are not revealed in the semen analysis.

If you had an IVF cycle before, the number and quality of your embryos is considered in our IVF prediction tests to calculate your probability of pregnancy in your next cycle. Embryo quality is typically determined by a scoring system based on embryo appearance and how well the embryos meet their developmental milestones. For instance, do you have mostly high scoring blastocysts on Day 5 of culture? This scenario bodes well for IVF success.

In fact, if you produce many high quality embryos, your doctor may recommend transferring just one embryo, because you are at higher risk of multiples. On the other hand, if you make very few embryos that reach the blastocyst stage on Day 5, other factors may weigh in more heavily in predicting your chances of success. Advanced prediction tests, developed and tested against data from thousands of IVF cycles, can help make this prediction.

No single fertility factor is predictive. Multiple factors (both positive and negative, specific to each of us) must be analyzed to arrive at a more personalized prediction of pregnancy with IVF. In the third post, we will consider how other medical factors can further modify your chances of pregnancy with IVF.


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