For the man, there’s no escaping it as male infertility accounts for a significant amount of the cases where a couple can’t get pregnant. To alleviate fears and get you better prepared here are some quick facts you need to know.
1. What is a semen analysis?
A semen analysis is one of the 1st line investigation tests for the male partner after the couple have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for more than 1 year. The test analyses the sperm count (to see how many), the motility rate (what percentage swim), the morphology (what percentage are normal) progression and volume.
2. Why is it done?
To assess the above parameters to ensure they do not fall below the normal levels. If they do, this can be the underlying cause of the couple’s infertility.
3. How should a man prepare before taking this test?
He needs 2 – 4 days of abstinence (so no sex) – not any more or less to evaluate the optimum live sperm count. Sperm die off every 3 days so if the man has a long period of abstinence you get lots of dead sperm and the count is not as accurate as it should be.
4. How is the semen analysis performed?
It is performed by masturbating and shooting the sample into a sterile container to be analysed by a qualified technician at a lab.
5. Can it be done at home?
Yes, as long as it can reach to the lab within 60 – 90 minutes of production. Men, who find it difficult to produce a sample via masturbation for religious reasons etc, can produce the sample using a specialised condom. These condoms and instruction on how to collect the sample must be obtained from our clinic.
6. Should a man feel embarrassed about this type of procedure?
Not at all. It is an easy test and non invasive.
7. Are there any risks involved in doing this?
No, it’s completely harmless.
8. What type of results can men expect from the tests?
Each result is individual – some men have normal counts, some have low counts and some men have no sperm at all. The tests results will determine what course of action you and your partner need to take to achieve your pregnancy.
9. Are there things that can affect the semen analysis?
Yes recreational drugs, some medications i.e. steroids, hormones, smoking and heavy alcohol as well as environmental factors use can drop sperm counts.
Yes be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there’s anything you need to do in advance. If a semen analysis is scheduled, you will need to refrain from ejaculating for 2-7 days prior to the collection.
Baby making should be easy as 1-2-3. When we are young we’re taught in Human Biology class how pregnancy occurs, never expecting that when we are ready to start a family, the process is not as easy, at least not for some.
The fact is one in six couples will have difficulty getting pregnant and in about half of these couples, male infertility plays a role.
What’s a good definition of male infertility?
We define it as a man’s inability to get his partner pregnant due to low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Illnesses, injuries, chronic health problems, lifestyle choices and other factors can play a role in causing male infertility.
At our fertility centres in both Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, the male patient often asks us after a diagnosis “Could I have known before? Should I have seen the warning signs?
The answer in most cases is no.
At times there are no obvious signs of a man’s infertility. Intercourse, erections and ejaculation can and do happen without difficulty and the quantity and appearance of the ejaculated semen can generally appear normal to the naked eye. Under the microscope that’s where a different story begins to appear and medical tests are always needed to find out if a man is infertile. For instance we know that having a lower than normal sperm count with fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate spells trouble once a couple decides it’s time to start a family.
However there are some indicators that a couple can look out for:
– Difficulty with ejaculation, reduced sexual desire or difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
– Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
– Recurrent respiratory infections
– Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormalityLearn More