20 Aug Semen Analysis: Why We Need It
Often, a couple’s infertility is assumed to be the result of issues with the female reproductive tract. This is especially the case when a woman has a known infertility factor – such as PCOS or endometriosis. When that occurs, men often balk at our request to provide a semen sample, assuming it’s a waste of time or money.
But here’s the thing: when we review the statistics –a couple’s infertility is just as likely to be the result of a male infertility factor as it is a female infertility factor, and about 40% of all infertility cases are the result of low/poor sperm quality. Also, for some couples, there are double infertility factors at work – meaning both the woman and the man have an infertility issue.
A Complete Fertility Testing Series Includes Semen Analysis
If you are seeking help from a fertility specialist, both of you should support a full fertility testing series. Ruling out every and all reasons for your difficulty conceiving is the only way to determine what is – and isn’t – working, choosing the best course of treatment to expedite your success.
When we test a sperm sample, we identify:
- Sperm count (is it normal or lower than normal? )
- Sperm morphology (are the sperm shaped correctly, or are misshapen sperm present in higher numbers than normal?)
- Sperm motility (do the sperm swim as quickly and efficiently as they should or do we see slow movers, or sperm that are squiggling around but without any real trajectory)
If the sperm analysis reveals abnormalities, we want to know ASAP so we can address it accordingly. The information revealed in a sperm analysis may also lead us to suggest additional male infertility testing. In some cases, we may recommend IUI with washed sperm, or we may recommend IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to make sure the sperm penetrate the egg shell. If sperm count or morphology is considerably low or there are no sperm evident, we’ll recommend considering a sperm donor.
Don’t Trust Sperm Analysis to General Labs
Often, we’ll have couples who say they don’t need us to perform a semen analysis because the male has already had his sperm tested by his GP, and the results came back “normal.” General lab technicians are well-trained, but they are trained to examine a myriad of slides and potential health conditions. As a result, general lab techs aren’t as highly-trained and experienced in sperm analysis.
The lab technicians working in an endocrinology or embryology labs have extra training in how to examine and analyze semen samples, and they often catch idiosyncrasies missed during the original analysis. In many fertility clinics, it’s the embryologist him/herself performing the analysis, offering the most expert eyes in the field.
Even if you’re able to provide evidence of recent sperm analysis, we still highly recommend providing a new sample so it can be analyzed by your fertility clinic’s preferred or in-house lab. There’s always a chance something was missed the first time around, making it impossible to provide a complete diagnosis and accurate treatment plan.
Personalized Fertility Treatments Are the First Priority
Ultimately, the goal of any fertility specialist is to accurately diagnose any and all infertility factors for both the male and female halves of the couple equation. From there, we can personalize your fertility treatment plan in an effort to save you time, energy and finances. Having all of the information – including the results of testing from both individuals – is the only way to accomplish that goal.