Can Male Sexual Abstinence Have an Effect on the Results of In Vitro Fertilization

IVF with ICSI has offered a path to pregnancy for hundreds of thousands of couples around the globe.   The procedure combines standard IVF with the insertion of a single sperm into an egg.     Standard IVF involves medication to the female partner which allows maturation of multiple ovarian follicles (each of which contains an egg) and eventual removal of those eggs  which are placed into a “dish”.  With ICSI, individual sperm are “injected” into individual eggs and then the eggs are monitored to see which fertilize and become embryos.   In standard IVF,  Eggs are incubated with thousands  of (often about 50,000) sperm.      In either situation, the embryos are then allowed to grow.  Currently, many centers allow the embryos to mature into a blastocyst form and a single blastocyst is transferred back to the female.  

 Given that with ICSI,  individual sperm are selected for individual eggs, it seems counter intuitive to consider abstinence as a factor that can affect IVF-ICSI results.   Dr. Periyasamy  et al from Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore India Published in the 2017 February issues of Fertility and Sterility on the effect of male factor on the outcome of 1030 ART cycles including both IVF and IVF with ICSI cycles.   In all groups, an adverse affect on results was seen when the male had more than seven days of abstinence.  

The mechanism by which increased abstinence affects results is unknown.   However, the study results do suggest that optimizing or treating male factor may be of benefits to all couples trying to conceive, even those who are considering IVF or IVF with ICSI.

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