- In This Feature
- How Do You Obtain a Sample?
- How Are Samples Analyzed?
- What Other Sperm Tests Are Available?
- What Can Cause Abnormal Sperm Counts?
- What Treatment Options Are Available?
- What Is a Urologist Evaluation?
- How Does the Infertility Evaluation Proceed?
- When to Test His Fertility
- What Happens if We Still Have Trouble Conceiving?
How Do You Obtain a Sample?
As many as 40 percent of all couples have difficulty conceiving due to some compromise of the sperm count or sperm function; therefore, a semen analysis should be one of the very first tests done for couples having trouble conceiving.
A semen analysis is easy (aside from the embarrassment some men may feel), inexpensive, and noninvasive. The sperm count will dictate which options are reasonable for a couple to pursue in their attempts to conceive. A severely compromised sperm count may, for example, mean that only rather sophisticated procedures are worthwhile, whereas a normal count would allow consideration of much more conservative procedures.
A semen sample is usually obtained by masturbation with collection of the ejaculate into a sterile specimen container. No lubricants should be used. There are also specially designed condoms that can be worn during intercourse to collect a semen sample. (These do have to be special condoms, which are available through your physician.) Two to three days of abstinence are suggested before obtaining a sample for analysis. Longer periods of abstinence may increase the count, but the percentage of sperm that are actively motile will decrease. On the other hand, shorter periods of abstinence may result in some decrease in the number of sperm present.
The sample should be submitted for analysis as soon as possible after collection. It is best to collect the sample at the office or laboratory where the semen will be analyzed. (Specially designed rooms just for this purpose are usually available.) If you are going to collect the sample at home, keep it at body temperature while transporting it to the laboratory. Placing the container under your arm, inside your pants, or in your bra will accomplish this. The sooner the sample is provided to the laboratory after collection, the better.