What Does a Sperm Analysis Test For, and What Happens Next?
Aside from difficulties that prevent semen production in the first place, what many men don't realize is that certain factors dictate the integrity of semen and its odds for initiating a successful pregnancy. Factors like motility, volume, and overall sperm count play an important role in a man's reproductive potential, so taking an active stance in understanding sperm health is often the least invasive first step toward building a family.
If you're curious about sperm health and how to improve it, then here are a few things to consider about the purpose of a sperm analysis and what happens afterward if you need fertility treatment options:
What Does a Sperm Analysis Do?
Also referred to as a "sperm count" test, a semen analysis test takes into consideration three main factors that were briefly mentioned above:
- Total number of sperm
- The shape of sperm cells
- Their motility (ability to move)
Here's what you can expect from the test, itself:
The test itself is non-invasive and can be done at home or within a controlled facility. Keep in mind, at-home tests can only track information regarding sperm count, which doesn't necessarily confirm one's fertility status.
At home screening tests can be a good start, but cannot substitute for a doctor or an Andrology lab evaluation. Tests completed at a professional lab will be able to analyze all three main factors. You might be required to provide a sperm sample onsite or at home if you are able to keep your sterile sample at body temperature and drop it off at the lab site within a few hours of producing. It is also important to note that a proper analysis requires abstaining from ejaculation for 2-3 days prior to your scheduled analysis drop off.
What Problems Can a Sperm Analysis Find?
The results from a semen analysis can expose a variety of problems based on the sperm's integrity. Although sperm count, motility, and shape are the main elements to look out for, other components, such as pH levels, volume, liquefaction, and appearance are also examined when identifying any underlying problems.
Sperm samples that receive low scores in these fields may uncover the following issues:
- Absence of sperm, resulting in infertility
- Low pH levels exposing infection or blockages
- Poor movement that prevents impregnation
- Misshaped or immature sperm cells that weaken fertility
- Increased fluid that dilutes sperm cells
- Slow liquefaction that weakens fertility
- Colored semen (red or yellowish tints) representing infections
But those aren't the only things your sample can tell us!
Some additional answers that a semen analysis can uncover are gene defects, hormonal imbalances, STDs and diseases, and overexposure to radiation or harmful chemicals. Even if male factor infertility isn't a top concern, hopeful couples can still benefit from getting a semen analysis done for the insight that it offers and who may be at risk of developing issues.
Am I a Good Candidate for a Sperm Analysis?
Couples who have had unsuccessful pregnancy attempts for a period of 6 months may benefit from undergoing a semen analysis. Of course, there are a myriad of issues that could arise, but since men and woman share a mutual responsibility when it comes to fertility, those who take initiative on both fronts will gain the best results.
In addition to the above time frame, men who are experiencing any of the following health concerns while trying to conceive should consider speaking to their doctor about:
- Drug abuse
- Tobacco use
- Prior Surgeries
- Ejaculatory problems
- Hormone Imbalances
- Celiac disease
- Taking multiple medications
- Exposure to radiation, chemicals, or heavy metals
- High stress levels
Being proactive will lead to hopeful couples having the family of their dreams, but more importantly, it can establish a precedent for better personal health and help you find the right solutions to your fertility problems.
What Happens Next?
After your semen analysis is over, you can trust that Kofinas Fertility Group will lead you in the right direction moving forward. Whether your sperm levels are excellent or could use some improvement, our team of experts can identify your unique challenges and suggest any changes or procedures that will alleviate your concerns.
For example, if you’re struggling with a lower-than-average sperm count, we can advise you on the right timing to conceive and how to optimize your chances of getting and staying pregnant with your partner. We might also suggest some lifestyle changes like more exercise, quitting smoking, or adding supplements into your daily routine.
However, if your sperm analysis shows us poor movement, we might recommend an IUI (intrauterine insemination) with your partner to increase your chances of fertilization.
No matter your results, your next steps after a sperm analysis will be specific to your situation and your family planning goals.
Consulting with a fertility specialist and using their testing and guidance to achieve a successful pregnancy is a great first step in finding answers to your fertility struggles. When you’re ready to get started, call us to schedule an appointment and we can take those first steps together!”