Recent and on-going advancements within the medical community have provided new opportunities for physicians to assist fertility patients in a multitude of ways. One very recent technological advancement is the newly-introduced ZyMot microfluidic sperm selection device. Launched last year, the ZyMot device is a new, FDA-approved, groundbreaking technology that helps embryologists select the highest-quality sperm for IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatments. This process is also utilized before the related ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) procedure, which is a specific type of in vitro fertilization that involves a single sperm cell injected directly into an egg.
Currently available to patients, this technology works best for those who have male factor infertility, or have experienced failed IVF in the past due to arrested embryo development. Main Line Fertility, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the first locations in the area to offer the FDA-approved ZyMot microfluidic sperm separation device to IVF patients.
According to Sharon Anderson, Ph.D., Scientific and Laboratory Director at Main Line Fertility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, there are several important points that patients should know about the ZyMot sperm separation device. She explains, “The ZyMot microfluidic sperm selection simulates the cervical and uterine pathway that sperm naturally navigate to fertilize an egg. It is truly a pioneering technology because it utilizes a special microporous membrane that the strongest sperm swim through to help select the best quality sperm for IVF or ICSI. Furthermore, according to recent research, ZyMot has been found to improve ICSI fertilization outcomes.”
Anderson points out that this device’s main benefit is to help select the highest quality sperm with much less DNA fragmentation. She says, “In reality, many people may not realize that forty percent of infertility is associated with the male. Even if a man has normal sperm count and sperm motility, he may be infertile due to sperm DNA fragmentation.”
What does exactly does sperm DNA fragmentation mean? Sperm DNA fragmentation is when there is physical breakage of one (or both) of the DNA strands. Sperm DNA fragmentation can be caused by oxidative stress from free radicals that are not adequately neutralized by antioxidants. Fragmentation can be associated with obesity, urogenital infections, smoking, advanced age, elevated testicular temperature (perhaps resulting from a sauna or hot tub), diabetes, poor diet, fever, environmental and occupational pollutants, varicocele, and certain medications.
Anderson says, “Patients should also understand that physical processing of sperm is key to ZyMot’s success. Typically, sperm are “washed” by multiple rounds of spinning the sperm in a centrifuge at a high rate of speed. But patients should know that ZyMot is considered a ‘gentler’ process, as the best quality sperm are obtained without centrifugation. This means that more patients will have a better chance of achieving pregnancy, and we are excited about offering this innovative treatment.”