Semen analysis: What is it?
Approximately one in six couples have difficulty in conceiving and in approximately 20-25% of these it appears to be due to a male factor. Sperm problems can range from the complete absence of sperm, to having low numbers or simply poor quality and currently the only reliable method we have for detecting these is by a semen analysis. Semen analysis is basically the microscopic examination of the semen to see how many sperm there are and whether they function correctly. The results of all the semen analysis tests will indicate whether or not a male factor is involved and so aid decisions about appropriate treatment.
What does the man have to do?
Put quite simply and crudely the man has to masturbate into a small sterile container. Although we recognise that this can be quite embarrassing for some, useful information can be gained from just one semen sample and quite often no further tests are required. Specimen collection is usually done at home, however for those living more than an hour away we recommend that it is done on site using our private facility. The results will help us decide whether or not treatment is necessary and what type of treatment will be most appropriate.
To provide the best sample, patients should:
- Ensure they have booked an appointment. Occasionally, the laboratory will close for training or attendance of meetings and cannot be held responsible if a patient arrives without an appointment only to find that it is closed
- Provide a complete sample. The first part of the sample contains most of the sperm so if some is lost it will affect the overall test.
- Abstain from ANY sexual activity for 2-5 days before hand.
- Deliver the sample in a container provided or recommended by the laboratory
- Label the sample container clearly with full name and date of birth
- Deliver the sample within 1 hour of its production and keep the sample close to the body whilst travelling in (as sperm are sensitive to extremes of temperature)
- Arrive with their request card
- Be hygienic, washing their hands and genital area beforehand