The most important test for assessing male fertility is semen analysis. It needs to be done by experts and ananlysed in detail.
The man's only contribution to making a baby is producing healthy motile sperm ; and depositing it in the vagina at the right time. But what are sperm ? And how does your doctor check whether your sperm are fine or not..?
Sperm are the male reproductive cells - the man's gametes. They are the smallest cells in the human body and are produced in the testes. They find their way out through the male reproductive tract and are ejaculated in the semen.
The most important test for assessing male fertility is the semen analysis. The fact that it is so inexpensive can be misleading, because many patients (and doctors ! ) feel that it must be a very easy test to do if it is so cheap, which is why they get it done at the neighbourhood lab. However, its apparent simplicity can be very misleading, because in reality it requires a lot of skill to perform a semen analysis accurately. However, it is very easy to do this test badly (as it often is by poorly trained technicians in small laboratories), with the result that the report can be very misleading - leading to confusion and angst for both patient and doctor.
This is why it is crucial to go to a reliable andrology laboratory , which specialises in sperm (Sperm Video) testing, for your semen analysis, since the reporting is very subjective and depends upon the skill of the technician in the lab.
Some men try to judge their fertility by the thickness of their semen. It's not possible to do this, so don't worry if you think your semen is too "thin" or too fluid..!!
For a semen analysis, a fresh semen sample, not more than half an hour old is needed, after sexual abstinence for at least 3 to 4 days. The man masturbates into a clean, wide mouthed bottle which is then delivered to the laboratory.
Providing a semen sample by masturbation can be very stressful for some men - especially when they know their counts are low; or if they have had problems with masturbation "on demand" for semen analysis in the past. Men who have this problem can and should ask for help. Either their wife can help them to provide a sample _ or they can see sexually arousing pictures or use a mechanical vibrator to help them get an erection. Some men also find it helpful to use liquid paraffin to provide lubrication during masturbation. For some men, using the medicine called Viagra can help them to get an erection, thus providing additional assistance. If the problem still persists, it is possible to collect the ejaculate in a special silicone condom (which is non-toxic to the sperm and is available from our online store) during sexual intercourse, and then send this to the laboratory for testing.
The semen sample must be kept at room temperature; and the container must be spotlessly clean. If the sample spills or leaks out, the test is invalid and needs to be repeated. Except for liquid paraffin, no other lubricant should be used during masturbation for semen analysis - many of these can kill the sperm. It is preferable that the sample is produced in the clinic itself - and most infertility centres will have a special private room to allow you to do so - a "masturbatorium".
How is the test performed in the laboratory?
After waiting for about 30 minutes after ejaculation, to allow the semen to liquefy, the doctor will check the semen.
Volume of the ejaculate:
While a lot of men feel their semen is "too little or not enough" , abnormalities of volume are not very common. They usually reflect a problem with the accessory glands - the seminal vesicles and prostate - which are what produce the seminal fluid. Normal volume is about 2 to 6 ml. A low volume (less than 1 ml) is an uncommon problem, and is often due to incomplete ejaculation (which is not rare because of the stress of producing a sample in the lab !) or spillage. Since the major portion of the ejaculate is produced in the seminal vesicles, a persistently low volume is because of a problem with seminal vesicle function - either absence of the seminal vesicles, or an ejaculatory duct obstruction. A very high volume surprisingly will also cause problems, because this dilutes the total sperm present, decreasing their concentration.
During ejaculation the semen spurts out as a liquid which gels promptly. This should liquefy again in about 30 minutes to allow the sperm free motility. If it fails to do so, or if it is very thick in consistency even after liquefaction, this suggests a problem most usually one of infection of the seminal vesicles and prostate.
Normally the pH of semen is alkaline because of the seminal vesicle secretion. An alkaline pH protects the sperm from the acidity of the vaginal fluid. An acidic pH suggests problems with seminal vesicle function , and is usually found in association with a low volume of the ejaculate and the absence of fructose.
Presence of a sugar called fructose:
This sugar is produced by the seminal vesicles and provides energy for sperm motility. Its absence suggests a block in the male reproductive tract at the level of the ejaculatory duct.
The most important test is the visual examination of the sample under the microscope. What do sperm look like ? Sperm are microscopic creatures which look like tiny tadpoles swimming about at a frantic pace. Each sperm has a head, which contains the genetic material of the father in its nucleus; and a tail which lashes back and forth to propel the sperm along. The mid-piece of the sperm contains mitochondria, (the power house of the sperm) which provide the energy for sperm motion.
Ask to see the sperm sample for yourself under the microscope - if normal, the sight of all those sperm swimming around can be very reassuring . You are likely to be awestruck by the massive numbers and the frenzy of activity. If the test is abnormal, seeing for yourself gives you a much better idea of what the problem is ! A good lab should be willing to show you, and to explain the problem to you.
First the doctor checks to see if there are enough sperm. This is done using a specially calibrated counting chamber. If the sample has less than 20 million sperm per ml, this is considered to be a low sperm count. The new WHO criteria suggest that even a sperm count of more than 15 million per ml is normal and men with this count should be considered as being fertile. Less than 10 million is low - and less than 5 millipn per ml is very low.
The technical term for this is oligospermia (oligo means few). Some men will have no sperm at all and are said to be azoospermic. This can come as a rude shock because the semen in these patients looks absolutely normal it is only on microscopic examination that the problem is detected.
Also read: Natural Ways to Boost Fertility (Part: One)Back to All Articles
Dr Bedekar Fertility Solution and IVF Clinic Thane is One of Best Semen Analysis in Thane, Mumbai.
We Provide Treatment for IVF, ICSI, (IUI), Surrogacy, Egg Donation, Semen Analysis, TESE / PESA etc.