Analyzing Male Fertility
The quantity and quality of the male’s semen sample is determined through an in-depth evaluation by highly trained andrologists. This evaluation is called a semen analysis (SA), and it remains the best way to diagnose male infertility. It is one of the first and only tests done to evaluate male fertility when a couple presents for treatment. It remains the gold standard because any problems with the male’s semen will interfere with his ability to conceive a child (infertility). Male infertility is an issue in up to 50% of couples that experience trouble having a baby.
The three most important things looked at in an analysis are the sperm count, motility, and morphology. You can learn more about what these mean and the different types of testing that can be done on our male infertility page.
We recommend that the analysis be done at a fertility center as they have more experience analyzing sperm and will have a better idea of what to look for. Fertility labs have seen firsthand how effective different sperm are at fertilizing eggs and will be able to provide a more meaningful result. The numbers are important but they can sometimes lie when it comes to sperm. Sometimes a man with a normal count will have difficulties fathering a child, while a man with a reduced count will not seem to have an issue. In our experience, non-fertility labs often lack the experience to adequately make this determination. For this reason, it is common for doctors to ask for the SA to be redone during treatment.
How to Schedule an SA
To schedule your semen analysis (SA) at the ORH lab please contact us to set up your appointment. Typically SA’s are scheduled weekday afternoons, but exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis. We also have a few weekend morning slots available. If you are scheduling a specific semen test such as an immunobead test, or a leucoscreen please indicate at the time of scheduling.
If you have been referred to us by an outside provider for an SA please indicate this when you schedule. This ensures the results get to your doctor as quickly as possible.
Patients have the option to either produce the semen sample at home or in one of our collection rooms on site. The sample should be produced through masturbation only. Other methods can interfere with an accurate analysis. If masturbation is unacceptable then other means of semen collection, such as a collection condom may be discussed. Do not use a regular condom as they are toxic to sperm.
The sample must be collected into a sterile container. Containers must be picked up from the office if you choose to produce the sample at home. Patients who collect at home must bring the sample into the lab within 1 hour of production and efforts should make sure the sample remains warm, around 75-85 degrees F during transport. Photo ID is required of the person dropping off the sample.
It is important that every effort to collect the entire sample is taken as the different portions of the ejaculate can have different properties and missing a portion can affect the results of the test. If part of the sample is lost during collection be sure to indicate this on the paperwork, and/or communicate this to the lab staff receiving the sample.
It is very important to abstain from sexual activity for a few days prior to your SA. However, prolonged abstinence results in the build up of dead sperm and other cells in the ejaculate. We ask that you abstain from sexual activity for 2-5 days before the analysis. Abstinence of more than 7 days can lead to an inaccurate result and you will be asked to reschedule for another time.
Lubrications are harmful to the sperm (this includes saliva) and must not be used, unless specifically approved by ORH. Currently, we recommend Pre-Seed, which is available on Amazon and other online pharmacies.
The analysis takes several days to complete and results are generally available 2-3 days after the appointment. If you are an ORH patient then the results will be filed on your chart and discussed during your next appointment with one of our doctors. If you have been referred to us by an outside physician then the results will go directly to the ordering physician.
Copies of the results must be obtained directly from the ordering physician.