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Sperm Capacitation the Key to Conception
Capacitating the sperm a necessary function in the conception process

By Lindsey Elling

When many couples decide to start trying to get pregnant, they do not put much thought into the seemingly natural process. If several months pass with getting pregnant, couples may start thinking about what they could be doing wrong and how to remedy any issues. While some can recall what they learned in high school biology, many people need a refresher course on the conception process.

Most people have a basic understanding of the conception process and know that ovulation is essential to conceiving. Most people, however, do not know that capacitation is also a vital piece in achieving pregnancy. So, what is sperm capacitation and why is it so important?

Scientifically speaking, sperm capacitation is a natural and essential process when a woman’s natural conception lubrication dissolves the immobilizing cholesterol from the sperm and creates an enzyme to allow the sperm to fertilize the ovum. In layman’s terms, sperm capacitation occurs when the lubrication a woman produces when sexually aroused removes the outer layer around any sperm entering the vagina and heading up the fallopian tube. Removal of the outer layer and the addition of an enzyme must take place for the sperm to be able to fertilize an egg.

In-vivo sperm capacitation occurs when the sperm is properly capacitated in the women’s cervix. Dr. Ron Thompson explains that in-vivo sperm capacitation selects out immature and abnormal sperm that lack capacitation. The process also selects out sperm coated with anti-sperm antibodies or strips off those antibodies to allow for proper capacitation. “In-vivo sperm capacitation works to allow only the fittest sperm to fertilize, but can only do so with normal vaginal lubrication,” said Dr. Thompson.

Not only is sperm capacitation crucial for natural conception, it is also necessary in Assisted Reproductive Technologies, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and gamate intrafallopian transfer (GIFT). For each of these ART procedures, reproductive specialists capacitate the sperm for several hours in the laboratory test tube before egg fertilization. This method is known as in-vitro capacitation.

While in-vitro sperm capacitation has proven successful in helping couples achieve pregnancy and in circumnavigating many of the issues of male subfertility, the process is expensive and complicated. Another more affordable and simpler option, ToConceive, is applied to the clitoris and allows the woman to create her own natural conception lubrication to properly capacitate the sperm for conception.

ToConceive, new to the market in 2012 and developed using Nobel Peace-winning technology, assures that the woman produces sufficient natural conception lubrication to prepare the sperm to fertilize the egg and achieve pregnancy. Without sperm capacitation, the egg cannot get fertilized and pregnancy will not occur.