Semen analysis: Male Fertility Testing
Many couples who are trying to conceive are faced with the concern of having infertility. Approximately 50% of the cases of infertility are due to the so called “male factor”. In my previous blog “the causes of male infertility” I discussed the various causes of male infertility. In my current blog I would like to discuss one of the most important tests that are used in the diagnosis of male infertility - semen analysis. Semen analysis is the basic diagnostic test that should be performed on all couples or singles who are suffering from infertility or are concerned about having infertility. The purpose of the test is to detect possible abnormalities and/or “weaknesses “within the sperm.
Where can I test my sperm?
A semen analysis can only be done in a specialized laboratory. Some fertility centers have their own laboratory while others rely on outside laboratories. Here at the Center for Fertility and Gynecology in the Los Angeles area, we perform semen analysis using our own laboratory and we have specialized staff “andrologists” that are trained to perform semen analysis. Semen analysis results can vary based on the laboratory that is used and it is of paramount importance to use only specialized laboratories that can perform and interpret semen analysis correctly.
Does the semen analysis need to be order by a physician?
The semen analysis does not need to be order by a physician. A patient that would like to check his sperm can contact directly a fertility center and schedule the semen analysis.
How do I prepare myself for the semen analysis and how is the semen analysis done?
The semen analysis is a very simple test that does not require any preparation other than abstinence between two to seven days. The sperm is collected via masturbation or intercourse in a sterile cup provided by the fertility clinic or the specialized laboratory. For religious couples or couples who desire to collect the sperm during intercourse, only a special condom can be used and it is usually provided by the fertility center. Regular condoms contain material that can be toxic to the sperm.
Some fertility centers, as ours, have the option for the patient to either collect the sperm at home and bring it to the laboratory or collect the sperm in a designated private room in the laboratory. For patients that decide to collect the sperm at home, the sperm needs to arrive to the laboratory within one hour from collection time.
How long does it take to receive the result of the semen analysis?
The semen analysis result can take anywhere between 24 hours to a week or more depending on the laboratory that is used. Here at the Center for Fertility and Gynecology we use our own laboratory and we obtain the result within 24hours.
What is included in the report of the semen analysis?
The semen analysis includes many parameters: volume of the sperm, PH, count, etc.
The most important parameters are:
· Volume : normal volume is considered two milliliter or above.
· Concentration of the sperm “count”: A normal “count” is considered twenty million sperm/one milliliter or more.
· Motility: the percent of sperm that are moving (since only moving sperm can fertilize the egg). A “normal” motility is considered 45%-50% of the sperm.
· Quality of the movement: The moving sperm are given a “grading system” to describe the quality of the movement. The grading system varies according to the laboratory that is used. Some laboratories describe it as “slow” or “rapid”, other laboratories use a grading system from 0-4.
· Morphology: “morphology” describes the shape of the sperm. A “normal Morphology” is anywhere between 14%-30% based on the criteria that are used to define normal morphology.
What if my semen analysis comes back “abnormal”?
In general, a diagnosis should not be established based on a single semen analysis. If a semen analysis returns “abnormal” the test needs to be repeated. If the repeat semen analysis returns again “abnormal “then the patient needs to undergo an evaluation. Here at the Center for Fertility and Gynecology we perform a thorough evaluation for “male infertility” and we work closely with the most reputable male infertility specialists (urologist) in order to establish a correct diagnosis and treatment.
Are there any additional tests that can be done in order to diagnose “male infertility”?
There are many different tests in addition to the semen analysis that can be performed in order to diagnose a possible “male factor” as hormonal testing and more specialized testing on the sperm.
Infect a normal semen analysis does not necessarily exclude a possible “male factor”.
If there is a problem with my sperm can it be corrected?
The answer is yes. For most if not all cases of “male factor” there is a possible treatment. The first step will be to contact a fertility specialist and undergo an evaluation for the potential causes of the abnormal sperm. At times modification of lifestyle or diet alone can improve the sperm. In cases in which a cause can’t be found or corrected there are different fertility treatments and procedures as Intrauterine insemination or Intracytoplasmic sperm injection that can overcome most if not all fertility treatments.
If you have any questions about a semen analysis please contact our center at firstname.lastname@example.org