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The Ins and Outs of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Preparing the Sperm

It's important that men closely follow the clinic's instructions for semen collection in order to obtain sperm of optimal quality. Not every clinic will have the same protocol, so make sure you understand what you need to do before your specimen is collected. In some cases, men may have to take an antibiotic prior to collection for IVF usage. Some of the other common instructions may include:
  • Avoid ejaculation for at least two days but not more than five days before giving the semen sample.
  • Collect the semen in a sterile, nontoxic plastic jar that is provided by your clinic.
  • The semen is usually collected in the clinic's office if possible. They usually have a private room where you can go.
  • There are other ways to collect the semen, such as a special nontoxic condom for collection that can be used during sexual intercourse.
  • Let the lab know if there were any problems during the collection process, such as if any of the specimen was lost or spilled or if you are taking any medications (including herbal supplements).
In most cases, masturbation is the method used to produce a sperm sample the day of the egg retrieval. Other options may include using a special condom or electroejaculation. In men who are unable to ejaculate or have no sperm in their semen, a urologist can often obtain usable sperm from the testicle or the epididymis with a minor surgical procedure.
In many cases, your healthcare provider may recommend having a "backup" sample frozen prior to the egg retrieval day, just in case problems come up in the production or quality of the sperm collected on the day of the egg retrieval.
For cases where donor sperm are used, the clinic will thaw out the sample and have it ready for use in conjunction with the egg retrieval.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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