Infertility and Men – Getting Tested for Infertility

The inability to produce healthy sperm in men is known as male infertility. Male infertility is the reason behind 40% of all infertile couples. This condition is often revealed when, even after no use of condoms or any other contraception, the couple fails to achieve pregnancy naturally. In case you are facing troubles in conceiving naturally. If this happens it is recommended to visit a urologist to get the semen tested. An urologist evaluates the quality and quantity of the sperm.

Semen Analysis and Sperm Analysis

Semen Analysis is an inexpensive medical test to assess male fertility. It requires skilled technicians in a reliable andrology laboratory to conduct it properly. Semen is collected from the male and tested in the laboratory to know about the potential abnormalities it holds. Men usually get conscious about their semen during their failed attempts of natural conception. As they fail to make babies naturally, they try to find the reason behind it. Gynaecologists prepare a series of tests for the couples, and the man is asked to go for a semen analysis.

Detection Through Semen Analysis

A semen analysis reveals the following:

Azoospermia is a common male fertility issue. It is the complete lack of sperm in the semen during the time of ejaculation. This syndrome is noticed in around 5% of all infertile men. There can be either one or both of the following two conditions causing Azoospermia in men:

  1. Problem with sperm production

  2. Blockage in the duct that restricts sperm production

Oligospermia is a male fertility issue that causes low sperm count. This is one typical aspect of men’s sexual health. This reduces the ability to get and maintain an erection. Men suffering from such syndrome do not produce ejaculation at orgasm.

Sperm count can vary in a person’s ejaculated semen at various points of his life. A healthy sperm amount is required for fertility in men. The average sperm count for men is denoted at or above 15 million sperm per millilitre (mL) of semen. A sperm count below this standard is considered low and is called oligospermia.

Sperm count from 10 to 15 million sperm/mL is considered as mild oligospermia, whereas Sperm count from 5 to 10 million sperm/mL is considered as moderate oligospermia. In case the sperm counts fall between 0 and 5 million sperm/mL, it is diagnosed as severe oligospermia.

The Test

Semen analysis is the most important test to detect male infertility. As we have discussed before, this is a very inexpensive medical test and can be done at a laboratory near you. However, you require getting the test done from a reputable laboratory as the results can be miss-guiding on many occasions when done in inefficient laboratories. Poorly trained technicians working in small laboratories often provide misleading information on the semen test. The test report, hence, provides leads to a conclusion for the patient and the doctor as well. This is why it is very important to conduct this medical test at a reliable laboratory. In case you are not satisfied with the test result, you can have the test done at another laboratory to get a second opinion. Doctors also sometimes advice to get the semen analysis done on a couple of occasions so thy are able to compare the results properly.

Sperm Collection

Semen analysis requires fresh samples of semen. The sample should not be more than half an hour old. The sample is collected after a sexual intercourse restriction of about 2 to 3 days. Usually, the person is asked to masturbate and collect the semen in a clean bottle given to him from the laboratory.

Collecting semen by masturbation often becomes difficult for some men as they already are under a lot of stress. In some cases, the wives help their husbands in collecting the semen sample by either showing them sexually arousing pictures or by other means. Some men use a mechanical vibrator or liquid paraffin to masturbate. Viagra also helps in this case to initiate ejaculation.

No other lubricant except liquid paraffin should be used during masturbation for semen analysis as any other lubricant can kill the sperm. It is preferable to collect the semen sample in the clinic itself so that there is no delay in submitting the sample. There are special rooms at the clinics for this. Men enter these rooms and use the articles provided there to arouse sexual excitement. They masturbate and collect their semen in containers given to them. The laboratory test is initiated soon after the submission.

Execution of Test in the Laboratory

The semen gets liquefied after 30 minutes of ejaculation. Low volume of ejaculation is a less common syndrome found in men. Ejaculation is often less due to obstacles in the duct.

The semen that comes out during ejaculation in liquid form immediately gets transformed into a gel state. It again changes into the liquid state after some 30 minutes to allow the sperm free motility. In case it does not change its viscosity and continues remaining in the gel form, it can be due to seminal vesicles or prostate infection.

The presence of fructose in the semen as secreted by the seminal vesicles provides energy and motility to the sperm. Absence of fructose causes blockage in the male reproductive tract.

The Test Results

Sperm motility is defined by the sperm’s ability to swim or move. This is a more significant quality than the count. Sperm that moves fast and can swim up to the egg can fertilise it. Other sperms may not be able to catch up to the speed and the fastest of them fertilises the egg to form an embryo.

Sperm morphology or shape is one of the most important deciding factors of fertility. Abnormally shaped sperm with pinheads, double heads, very large heads, or absent tails is considered to be incapable to fertilise an egg. Perfectly shaped sperm are considered normal. Presence of a lot of abnormal sperm in the semen can make the man infertile.

Thus, we come to know about the various factors that determine male fertility. The quantity of semen released during male orgasm does not really determine his fertility. The fertility quotient depends on the quality of properly shaped and movable sperm present in the semen.

Male infertility is curable and there is a lot of treatments in IVF as well. Deficiency in the semen causes male infertility and has affected almost 7% of men across the globe. Only by medical tests can the reasons and type of infertility in a person be found. A changed lifestyle is a big reason for such abnormality in men. Hormonal disorders, injury or illness might also be the reasons for it. It is advised to immediately consult a doctor for semen culture to find out presence, type, and treatment of infertility. The longer it persists, the more difficult it becomes to treat the condition and to recover. So, it is wise for any couple to immediately consult a doctor in case they are failing to achieve pregnancy naturally. Immediate doctor’s attention helps in controlling the abnormality. The couple also gets time to invest in the treatment and then go for pregnancy attempts. Or else, some couples choose to go for a sperm donation for making babies through IVF treatment.