MACS And PICSI – The Best Sperm Selection Techniques

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The success of the IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) technique depends on various factors. These factors vary from case-to-case and may require a different approach. Multiple pieces of research have shown that sperm quality directly affects embryo development, and that is why sperm selection is crucial.

The two methods of functional sperm selection are PICSI (Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) and MACS (Magnetically Activated Cell Sorting).

These methods are chosen based on certain indicators such as pathological spermiogram (a test to evaluate male fertility), poor DNA integrity in sperm, woman‘s age, and any history of IVF failures, abortions etc.

MACS and PICSI methods have been developed for selecting a healthy mature non-apoptotic sperm (which have low levels of DNA damage) so that the highest quality of the embryo is developed, thereby increasing the chances of a successful ongoing pregnancy. 


Magnetic Activated Cell Sorting (MACS) is a semen segregation technique that separates healthy sperms from the unhealthy ones (apoptotic sperms). By doing so, better results in fertilization rate and pregnancy rate can be achieved.

In the MACS technique developed by Miltenyi Biotec, superparamagnetic nanoparticles and columns are used. This technique is not only used for treating infertility but also in areas of cancer research, neuroscience, stem cell research, and immunology.

MACS technique can be mainly used in the below cases where:

  • There are high levels of DNA fragmentation in their sperms.
  • There is a history of miscarriages.
  • The quality of the embryo is poor.


PICSI is a technique of identifying a mature sperm which is the best possible sperm for fertilization before it is injected into the PICSI dish containing the egg for fertilization. The PICSI dish also contains samples of hyaluronan, which acts as a binding agent to attract the strongest sperm.

A healthy and sufficiently mature sperm gets attached to the hyaluronan and rotates around its head. As per studies, the sperm cells selected by this are less fragmented.

This process mimics the natural reproduction process where the healthiest sperm gets attached to the egg resulting in fertilization. The more mature a sperm, the more is its ability to get attached to the hyaluronic acid, which means that sperm is the best suited for the egg.

PICSI method is highly recommended for the below cases:

  • Previous failure or low fertilization despite a cycle of ICSI.
  • Low embryo quality.
  • Repeated miscarriages.

Thus, the PICSI method is useful in case of repeated abortions, low level of fertilized eggs, or poor embryo quality. PICSI can be combined with MACS, a magnetic selection of sperm, to achieve better results.

With great progress in science, new avenues have opened up to treat infertility. More couples, who had earlier lost all hopes of conceiving, are now opting to go for fertility treatments. These techniques have provided a ray of hope to many parents who have suffered due to infertility. But thanks to the treatments available, they can now experience the joy of becoming parents!

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