What’s Involved in a Semen Analysis?
When conception isn’t coming easily, and you decide it’s time to seek medical expertise, your partner will likely undergo plenty of tests and interviews. The female reproductive system is vastly complex, and there are multiple factors that may affect fertility. That’s why many people mistakenly believe that infertility is typically a female issue.
But men account for half of all fertility challenges, so it’s important to consider your role as well. After checking for obvious obstacles, such as vasectomy, illness, and erectile dysfunction, one of the first steps is evaluating your semen.
At IVFMD, our fertility experts perform a thorough semen analysis to determine if there are any issues with the health of your ejaculate. The test checks for key aspects in your sperm that influence your fertility so we can advise you about how to improve your chances of conception. Here’s what to expect.
Reasons you may need a semen analysis
If you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for several months with no success, you may be starting to wonder if there’s a problem. The fact is, conception is complicated, and while some couples get pregnant on the first try, about 93% of healthy fertile couples take up to two years to finally succeed.
But if you’re past the one-year benchmark (or six months if your partner is 37 or older) and still don’t have a baby, it’s time to come see us at IVFMD. For men, the standard operating procedure begins with a semen analysis to determine fertility.
The other reason men might need a semen analysis is to test the success (or failure) of a vasectomy. The goal of a vasectomy is to keep sperm out of your ejaculate, and a semen analysis can determine whether sperm are present or not. You may need to have a semen analysis once a month, up to three months in a row to be sure.
Finally, a semen analysis can test for the return of your sperm after a vasectomy reversal.
What to expect during your semen analysis
A semen analysis is as simple as providing a sample of your ejaculate so it can be tested in a laboratory. That said, there are some guidelines we ask you to follow to ensure your sample is healthy and uncontaminated.
- Best sperm samples are collected after only 2-4 days of abstinence, as long periods of abstinence can result in old sperm with low motility and give misleading results
- Stay away from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and caffeine for five days before your semen analysis
- Avoid supplements, especially St. John’s wort (inhibits sperm motility) and echinacea (affects sperm production)
- Stop taking testosterone
- Don’t use calcium channel blocker medications for high blood pressure
- Don’t use muscle-building steroids (they interfere with sperm production)
- Tell us about any medications you’re taking
Once your system is clear of substances that can potentially alter your results, it’s time to analyze your semen.
How to collect your semen sample
We understand that this part may feel uncomfortable for many men. Rest assured that at IVFMD, our mission is to help couples conceive by providing education, expertise, advanced technology, and above all, a safe, comfortable, private environment free of judgment. Our team is committed to treating you and your partner with dignity and respect throughout your fertility journey.
When you need to provide a semen sample for analysis, we offer you optional ways to collect it and let you choose the method that’s best for you.
Many of our male patients choose to provide their sample while they’re here in our office. In this case, we offer you a private room where you can masturbate to produce a sample.
If you prefer intercourse instead of masturbation, at our clinic, you can purchase specialized condoms that don’t harm the sperm. You then place the condom filled with semen in a container and bring it to the clinic within 60 minutes. Keep the sample at body temperature, as lower temperatures slow down your sperm and skew the results of your semen analysis.
Optimizing your semen sample
The best semen sample is clear of any foreign substances, which is why we ask you to avoid certain drinks, drugs, and medications.
But there are other factors that can adversely affect your results, including semen:
- That’s too old and has liquified
- That is too warm or too cold (not body temperature)
- That has come into contact with a spermicide
- Collected while you were ill
- Collected while you were stressed
To avoid invalidating your semen analysis, it’s critical to understand these factors that can interfere with your results.
What happens after you provide your semen sample?
Your part is done. After you provide your semen sample, we analyze using the strict Kroger criteria, which is a far more stringent standard than many other labs require.
The multiple isolated factors we consider include:
- Antisperm antibody screen
By analyzing the number, shape, size, and movement of your sperm, we can determine whether they are likely or unlikely to reach and fertilize an egg, and what to do next if your results are abnormal.
We use the most advanced technology available to ensure the most accurate results. This includes the HalospermⓇ test, which detects damage to your sperm’s DNA, which may have been caused by exposure to chemicals or smoking, aging, free radicals, or obesity. The Halosperm test clearly identifies sperm with normal versus abnormal DNA.
To learn more about semen analysis, male fertility, and the tests and treatments you may need, contact us by phone or online to schedule a consultation at any of our three IVFMD offices in Arlington, Grapevine, or Irving Texas.