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Optimise your chances of a healthy baby

GeneXmatch is a service offered to you as a natural step on your fertility journey. Our donors are selected based on thorough genetic testing to optimise the chances for healthy babies. But as the prospective mother, your genes also have a role to play. GeneXmatch is a way for you to minimise the risk of disease-causing combinations from yours and your donor’s genes.

What we do

We test your recessive genes and match them against the same genes of your chosen donor to identify the risk of more than 390 autosomal recessive serious diseases. If you are a carrier of one or more mutations in the recessive genes investigated, we will only match you with a donor who is not a carrier of a mutation in the same gene(s) as you. This reduces the risk of recessive diseases in your child.
The second test concerns 12 genes located on your X chromosome. If you are a carrier of a mutation in any of these X-linked genes, you have a risk of having an affected child, regardless of the donor. In this case, we will offer you genetic counselling to determine your options and how to proceed on your fertility journey.

It’s easy

The only thing we need from you is a saliva sample. You will receive a test kit from us with full instructions on how to provide and return your sample. You will get your result approximately four weeks after the lab has received your sample.

How to get pregnant v.2 – by PhD Dorte Egeberg

How to get pregnant? The answer might seem simple. But what is really going on? A while ago we explained how important the female cycle is for the chance of conception. This time we will give you the answer from the perspective of a sperm cell. Our new expert, Dorte Egeberg, explains: 

It begins with millions of sperm cells

Millions of sperm cells are ejaculated into the female reproductive tract, where they gain their full ability to swim. To reach the site of fertilization, the sperm cells have to pass through several functional obstacles, many of which require the ability to swim. Hence, the total number of motile sperm cells is a very important parameter to study in the laboratory evaluation of semen quality [1]. The sperm cells are deposited in the vagina enclosed in seminal plasma, a viscous fluid containing factors protecting and nourishing the sperm cells. Inside the female the seminal plasma coagulates and in this way helps the sperm cells staying inside the female in close vicinity to the cervix. Mucus extends from the cervix, enabling passage of the sperm cells from the semen coagulum up into the cervix. Only sperm cells capable of swimming can penetrate the cervical mucus. Furthermore, the mucus excludes the seminal plasma from entering the upper female reproductive tract [2]. This process is mimicked in the processing of IUI-ready samples in the sperm laboratory, where the motile sperm cells are separated from seminal plasma, dead or otherwise abnormal cells. Once through the cervix, the sperm cells swim across the uterus and at the junction between the uterus and the fallopian tubes they have to pass another mucus plug.

About 1 out of 1.000.000 sperm cells enters the fallopian tubes

In humans, of the millions of sperm cells deposited after coitus, only a very few sperm cells have the potential to reach the fallopian tubes. Once inside the fallopian tubes the sperm cells follow clues excreted from the supportive cells of the egg, the cumulus cells [3]. On the way the sperm cells undergo a series of biochemical and functional modifications, collectively referred to as capacitation, which renders the sperm cells ready for fertilization. Eventually, the sperm cells met the barrier of cumulus cells surrounding the egg cell. To pass through the cumulus cells, the sperm cells have to use their very special stroke, known as hyperactivation. But this is not the last obstacle for the sperm cells to pass, i.e. surrounding the egg is an impenetrable shell, the zona pellucida [4]. In order to pass the zona pellucida, the sperm cells have to undergo a very special process called the acrosome reaction, where hydrolytic enzymes are released from a deposit at the top of the sperm cell. These enzymes are capable of breaking down the zona pellucida and in this way allowing the last step of fertilization [5].

Only one sperm cell is needed for fertilization

In the end, only one sperm cell will fertilize the egg. The success of a sperm cell to finalize its primary goal depends on several parameters where each parameter is believed to explain a minor proportion of the total fertilizing ability, and that only sperm cells that possess all these properties will essentially be able to fertilize the egg.

As always, if you have any comments or questions don’t hesitate to contact us!

 

  1. Sakkas, D., et al., Sperm selection in natural conception: what can we learn from Mother Nature to improve assisted reproduction outcomes? Hum Reprod Update, 2015. 21(6): p. 711-26.
  2. Suarez, S.S. and A.A. Pacey, Sperm transport in the female reproductive tract. Human Reproduction Update, 2006. 12(1): p. 23-37.
  3. Eisenbach, M. and L.C. Giojalas, Sperm guidance in mammals – an unpaved road to the egg. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol, 2006. 7(4): p. 276-85.
  4. Liu, D.Y., C. Garrett, and H.W. Baker, Acrosome-reacted human sperm in insemination medium do not bind to the zona pellucida of human oocytes. Int J Androl, 2006. 29(4): p. 475-81.
  5. Overstreet, J.W. and W.C. Hembree, Penetration of the zona pellucida of nonliving human oocytes by human spermatozoa in vitro. Fertil Steril, 1976. 27(7): p. 815-31.

“Most men will donate sperm because they want to help”

In October 2017 students at Brand Design at KEA were briefed by European Sperm Bank on a challenge called “How to attract and motivate young men to become sperm donors?”. Here is what one of their lecturers thought about the task. 

If you are in a relationship, your partner has a huge influence whether or not you chose to become a sperm donor”, “Most men will donate because they want to help – not for the money”, “Some men feel the need for spreading their super genes”, “A lot of men don’t volunteer to be a sperm donor cause they fear for the reaction in their surroundings”.

These and many more, were some of the interesting insights our 90 students at KEA Brand Design, were able to conclude after an intense 3 week process. First, we had a briefing session where Annemette Arndal-Lauritzen from European Sperm Bank gave the students a lot of insight and background information to the challenge. After a million questions, initial thoughts and ideas our students went to work.

Every group had to create a video demonstrating their process. See one example here.

The goal for the project was not about creating final executions and strategies to solve the problem, but about gaining insights around the target group. Researching and understanding potential sperm donors, the company and market. Who they are, how they think and feel about the subject, what’s driving or stopping them etc.  We saw many different approaches in this insight hunt. Some did street interviews, some got people to illustrate how they imagine the clinic should look, some held more classic focus groups, others gave the respondents homework to do and we even had one group who asked young men to take photos of the places they would masturbate. They certainly showed many creative ways of getting knowledge.

One of our groups found that a main barrier in becoming a sperm donor is the fear of accidentally bumping into “your offspring” one day in the supermarket. The thought of meeting “mini-me’s” scare them away. The students then asked a focus group to match photos of fathers and children to investigate if the fear was real or not. And it showed that NO ONE were able to pair the right fathers and kids. So maybe this kind of fear and barrier is something to deal with.

Thanks a lot, to European Sperm Bank for giving us this challenge, it was a super project.

By Laura Elmøe, Lecturer at KEA, Brand Design, Copenhagen