Can't see sperm in microscope

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Can't see sperm in microscope

#1 Post by MicroMidas » Tue Sep 03, 2019 2:48 pm

Great first post.. :mrgreen:

Got a decent microscope where i can look at things in up to 900x with pretty crisp quality. Been looking at many things, everything works out fine, no problem getting a clear image, but then i wanted to look at sperm (wanted to see if im fertile, my wife to be and I are planning to have kids in not too long).

Nothing at all. No movement, no nothing. (I have the sample between two pieces of plastic). Let it sit for a while after "producing" it, took a drop, nothing. Not in 300x, 600x or 900x.

I shouldn't HAVE to have contrast in there to see them, right? Maybe there's nothing there?

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Re: Can't see sperm in microscope

#2 Post by Radazz » Tue Sep 03, 2019 5:32 pm

They don’t last very long.
Plastic might have the wrong refractive index, making the sample invisible, or might have killed them.
Try a regular slide and coverslip, and don’t wait to long to get the sample under the scope.
400x is best.

Looks like you’re going to have to take another one for the team.

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Re: Can't see sperm in microscope

#3 Post by apochronaut » Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:57 am

You might try playing around with some simple stains. I did the servicing on a Zetopan for a company that provided boar semen. There was supposed to be this never ending flow of money from China into the agricultural sector, particularly pork. Agtech types were stepping all over each other to get in on the show. Enter this emerging skill of boar semen extraction. I'm not exactly sure how it was done but somewhere out there, is an animal reproductive technician, or former animal reproductive technician, who's parents had the forsight to bestow the name of Jack on.
They used eosin-nigrosin in order to separate live from dead.

What I would do, is get some food colouring and or make up some dyes from some typical vegetable dye material. Onion skin, beet, red cabbage, walnut husks/leaves, yellow beet, turmeric, paprika. See if any of them stain egg white. With food colouring you will obviously need a tiny tiny amount for your sample, so dilute it heavily. Something should work.

Another option is to use some form of oblique lighting to increase contrast.

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Re: Can't see sperm in microscope

#4 Post by p3aul » Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:05 pm

Well 40 years ago when my wife and I wanted kids and couldn't conceive, I, too went to the microscope. Same results as you! We went to the professionals and they too took sperm samples and examined them. I could have saved a lot of money, because the reason I couldn't see my sperm is because it wasn't there! Hope this is not your problem. Consider doing what we did and adopt. We now have two girls, 4 granddaughter, and 3 great-grand children!

That said, I have seen sperm in my microscope. It was an older chinese scope, one they called "Society Size". At about 300x you should begin to see the "little wigglers". At 400 or 600 power you can examine them in good detail. You don't need a name brand expensive scope to see them either. A child's scope could probably make them out!
Happy hunting,
Paul Microscope: Amscope T400b Camera: Amscope MU300
Telescope: Orion xt6 classic Dob, Zhumell z10 classic Dob

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Re: Can't see sperm in microscope

#5 Post by MicroMidas » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:23 am

Ok, got some decent glass to put the sample on and tried again. Now i saw swimmers, but only barely. Nothing at 300x or 600x, but at 900x I saw a few, and they were tiny and almost all of them bad swimmers. There were maybe 5-6 in my field of vision at most (moved the glass around looking for them) and i saw maybe 30 sperms all in all where 5-6 could swim, the rest hardly moved at all or swam in circles.

Edit: this is 600x (not my video); what I saw was a lot smaller than these and farther between, even at 900x.

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Re: Can't see sperm in microscope

#6 Post by mnmyco » Thu Sep 12, 2019 3:17 am

It has been a while since I looked at live sperm in the microscope, but as I recall using a coverslip and depression slide it was easy to see them. I am not sure what you would add to thin the solution out, which may help, but it won’t be simply adding water. I think you will have better luck using either dark field or some extremely oblique lighting.


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