Andrology from the Greek Andros “man” is the medical field that focuses on male health, in particular infertility.
In the NHS Grampian Fertility Centre a Linkam THL60-16 is being used when assessing sperm motility. A standard 10 µl volume of sample is placed onto a clean glass slide and a 22x22mm coverslip is placed on top. The weight of the cover slip spreads the sample to allow the correct depth to be achieved for evaluating sperm motility. The slide is examined as soon as the sample stops drifting. A phase contrast microscope is used to observe the sample at x400 magnification to assess motility.
Approximately 200 spermatozoa per count are assessed for motility. Spermatozoa can be classified as progressively motile, non-progressively motile or non-motile. The percentage of progressively motile sperm is important to fertility assessment. A man is considered sub-fertile if his sperm count is below the reference values. About 25% of couples of reproductive age are affected by fertility problems, with around 35% of men sub-fertile and 2% infertile. Sperm motility is temperature dependent and in order to assess in vivo fertility assessments should be carried out at 37°C.
Using the warm stage samples can be kept at 37°C while being observed. The warming plate is incredibly thin and a platinum resistor temperature sensor is used for higher accuracy and stability than the more commonly used thermocouple. It is great to know Linkam stages have won the confidence and reliance of so many NHS labs.