Advanced Sperm Selection Strategies as a Treatment for Infertile Couples: A Systematic Review

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is an essential tool to overcome infertility, and is a worldwide disease that affects millions of couples at reproductive age. Sperm selection is a crucial step in ART treatment, as it ensures the use of the highest quality sperm for fertilization, thus increasing the chances of a positive outcome. In recent years, advanced sperm selection strategies for ART have been developed with the aim of mimicking the physiological sperm selection that occurs in the female genital tract. This systematic review sought to evaluate whether advanced sperm selection techniques could improve ART outcomes and sperm quality/functionality parameters compared to traditional sperm selection methods (swim-up or density gradients) in infertile couples. According to preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA guidelines), the inclusion and exclusion criteria were defined in a PICOS (population, intervention, comparator, outcome, study) table. A systematic search of the available literature published in MEDLINE-PubMed until December 2021 was subsequently conducted. Although 4237 articles were recorded after an initial search, only 47 studies were finally included. Most reports (30/47; 63.8%) revealed an improvement in ART outcomes after conducting advanced vs. traditional sperm selection methods. Among those that also assessed sperm quality/functionality parameters (12/47), there was a consensus (10/12; 83.3%) about the beneficial effect of advanced sperm selection methods on these variables. In conclusion, the application of advanced sperm selection methods improves ART outcomes. In spite of this, as no differences in the reproductive efficiency between advanced methods has been reported, none can be pointed out as a gold standard to be conducted routinely. Further research addressing whether the efficiency of each method relies on the etiology of infertility is warranted ​
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