Infertility Tests: Semen Analysis

One of the most common male infertility tests is an analysis of his semen. This test is often performed at the very beginning of treatment to identify whether there are any problems with the patient’s semen. If not, other tests will be performed to investigate other potential reasons for the fertility problems. If, however, the analysis shows problems with the patient’s semen, the specialist will begin a course of treatment to address and treat those problems.

Collection of Semen

The first part of a semen analysis is for the specialist to collect a semen sample. This sample is usually provided by the patient and requires no physician involvement. If, however, the patient is unable to collect a sample by himself, for example due to problems becoming erect, the specialist might need to surgically remove semen directly from the patient’s testicles.

Presence of Sperm

The first thing a semen sample is tested for is whether it contains sperm. Sperm and semen are two separate things; sperm uses semen to travel. Semen that does not contain sperm is an indication that a male is infertile. If this is the case, there is very little a specialist can do for the patient.

Sperm Health

One of the issues investigated in semen analysis is whether the patient is producing healthy sperm. Healthy sperm will have half of the DNA sequence necessary to create an embryo after coming into contact with an egg. Sperm can be unhealthy due to not having the necessary DNA, being misshapen or not being able to travel up the fallopian tube.

Sperm health as it relates to DNA can mean that the sperm does not have the proper amounts or levels of DNA. Even if sperm is able to reach an egg and penetrate into the egg, sperm with malformed DNA sequences will not form a healthy embryo. This could result in a miscarriage or the birth of a handicapped child.

Sperm Motility

Sperm motility is an extremely important issue when an individual is experiencing problems with fertility. To form an embryo, sperm must be able to travel up the fallopian tubes to meet the egg. Sperm that cannot move properly will not be able to reach the egg and, therefore, not be able to form an embryo. There are several reasons why a patient’s sperm would have poor motility, including being misshapen or malformed. Another reason why sperm may have poor motility would be because the viscosity of the semen it uses for transport would be too thin or too thick.

Results of Semen Analysis

Knowing that the patient’s semen is healthy and able to reach an egg eliminates it as a cause of the fertility problems. If the results of a patient’s semen analysis show that there is nothing wrong with the patient’s semen, the physician will then turn to other tests to determine if the man has a problem. These tests could be in the form of an ultrasound or other procedures.

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