Treatment of infertility involves a multipronged approach and involves several diagnostic tests, one of which is a semen analysis. If you have been recommended this test it is important to understand what it is. A semen analysis or sperm count test tests the viability and the health of the male sperm. Semen is the liquid that contains the sperm. It also contains proteins and other sugars. These get released when the sperm is ejaculated.
When a semen analysis is done the health of the sperm is checked. The specific points analysed are:
- The sperm count
- The sperm shape
- The sperm motility or the movement of the sperm
Why do you need a semen analysis?
A sperm analysis is conducted when a couple is facing fertility issues, and is part of the routine pre-conception check-up many couples opt for in case of a planned pregnancy. Here are the functions it performs:
- Tests male infertility: The test helps the doctor to determine if the male is infertile. The test also helps to find out if the reason for infertility is the low sperm count or dysfunction of the sperm.
- Test for the success of vasectomy: Men who had a vasectomy need to undergo a semen analysis to be sure that there is no sperm in the semen. When a vasectomy is performed the tubes that send the sperms to the penis from the testicles are cut and sealed. This is a permanent method of birth control. After the vasectomy is performed, the doctor will ask the male to do a sperm analysis to make sure that no sperm is there in the semen.
How is the semen analysis done?
For the test, a man would be asked to provide a semen sample to the doctor. This is then used to for the analysis. The four ways in which a semen sample is collected are:
- Condom sex
- Withdrawal before ejaculation when during the act
- An ejaculation that is simulated with the help of electricity.
Masturbation is however the preferred method to get a clean sample.
The semen is then kept at body temperature until testing, since if it is hot or cold, the results may not be accurate. The semen should be tested within 30 to 60 minutes of it leaving the body.
Two or sometimes even three tests are performed to get a good analysis of the health of the sperm. The tests are conducted at a gap of at least seven days between the tests and in the course of two or three months. The sperm count of the male can change on a day to day basis. The doctors would thus take an average of the samples of the sperm and this lets them get a conclusive result.