Could the sperm be the problem?
3 Replies
jennt - December 13

I will recap my situation:

I am 33 years old. I recently did IVF and was overstimmulated (48 eggs retrieved). 31 of the 48 fertilized w/ ICSI. On day 3, 3- level 2, 8 celled embryos were transfered and 16 were placed in cryo. Beta was negative. FET cycle was scheduled yesterday and out of the 5, 3 day embryos thawed, only one made it to blast on day 6. The others arrested in development on day 5 without reaching to blast stage.

You have already answerd the question of whether or not overstimming could have affected the eggs so my new question is:

Could the sperm have anything to do with the arrested development of the embryos and the 1 slow developing blastocyst?

Thank you-



Dr Smith - December 14

Possibly. But I would have to know more about the severity of any "sperm problems" before giving you my take on it. Please post whatever info you have about the sperm on the day of IVF and any previous SAs with a "strict" morphology assesment.


jennt - December 14

Dr. Smith-

If possible could you give me a list of questions to ask the lab about the sperm in order for you to have what you need to assess whether or not you believe the sperm was the issue in our case?

I don't know anything except the sperm varied from 4-17 million with all the different IUI's and the IVF procedure. I also know that out of 48 eggs retreived, 35 were mature and 31 fertilized with ICSI.

Thank you very much.


Dr Smith - December 18

Although the sperm concentration (millions/ml) is important, the percentage of sperm that were swiming (% motility), the percentage of sperm that were swiming straight and fast and/or their "grade" of motility (progressive motility), and the percentage of sperm exhibiting a normal shape (% normal morphology by Strict Criteria) are all important parameters. In terms of embryonic arrest prior to reaching the blastocyst stage, sperm morphology and progressive motility appear to be the best predictors. Poor morphology (<4% strict criteria) combined with poor progressive motility (<20% or Grade1-2) can cause a higher number of embryos to arrest on Day 3 and Day 4-5. Even when ICSI is used to facilitate fertilization. For the egg, fertilization is easy, continued embryonic development is the hard part.

In your case, it is difficult to tell what impact sperm quality made because the fresh embryos were transferred on Day 3 (before sperm problems show up) and the frozen-thawed Day 3 embryos were compromised by the freeze-thaw process which can, and does, impact post-thaw blastocyst development. Bottom line: We will never know.

There is test availabe to evalaute sperm DNA problems that can cause embryonic developmental arrest. The test is called the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) and is available from SCSA Diagnostics (



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