What we know about the Shs14m “sperm injection” at the New Mulago Neonatal Hospital

Jonah Kirabo

Following the release of the charges for specialised treatment services at the New Mulago Hospital Neonatal and Women’s department, Ugandans on social media have reacted to the rates with many asserting that these could turn out to be unaffordable for the ordinary Ugandan.

The majority are still in awe, pondering what “sperm injection” basically means or requires to have it rated at over Shs 14 million and several others have embarked on a search for sperm banks possibly to see how they can become sperm donors and make that extra income. But what is sperm injection?

Intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an in vitro fertilisation procedure in which a single sperm cell is injected directly into the cytoplasm of an egg. This is used to prepare the gametes for the obtention of embryos that may be transferred to a maternal uterus.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), ICSI is most often used with couples who are dealing with male infertility factors such as low sperm counts, poor motility or movement of the sperm, poor sperm quality, sperm that lack the ability to penetrate an egg, or azoospermia which is a condition where there is no sperm in the male’s ejaculation.

The mature egg is held with a specialised pipette. A very delicate, sharp, and hollow needle is used to immobilise and pick up a single sperm. The needle is then carefully inserted through the shell of the egg and into the cytoplasm of the egg. The sperm is then injected into the cytoplasm, and the needle is carefully removed. The eggs are checked the following day for evidence of normal fertilisation.

Once this is complete and after a successful fertilisation, the embryo transfer procedure is used to physically place the embryo in the woman’s uterus and the woman is left to watch out for early pregnancy symptoms which may necessitate a blood test or ultra sound to determine if pregnancy has occurred.

How the sperm is retrieved for use in sperm injection?

For men with low sperm count, the sperm may be collected through normal ejaculation, needle aspiration and/or microsurgical vasectomy reversal.

The process is highly recommended in cases of male infertility, where the male partner produces very few sperms, the sperms don’t move normally or where there is blocked uterine tract and it has been a sigh of relief to many couples who have failed to produce.

But what causes low sperm count in males?

Dr. Gilbert Ahimbisibwe who is a gynaecologist at the Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre in Bukoto says that the problem is mainly due to lifestyles and habits of smoking, excessive alcohol consumptions, drugs and anything that exposes the testis to high temperatures such laptops, steam baths, tight underwear and hot baths.

Additional reporting by www.asrm.org and www.resolve.org

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