This simple diagnostic test provides valuable insight into your sperm's ability to fertilize an egg. Learn how to get started and what to expect.
uring basic infertility testing, we require the male partner to provide a semen sample for analysis. This analysis can identify any male-factor fertility issues that can contribute to a couple's infertility. It may come as a surprise, but 40 to 50 percent of infertility cases are due to a male factor form of infertility.
Regardless of whether you've previously fathered a child or you feel otherwise healthy, a semen analysis is the only way to identify or rule out a problem with the male partner's sperm. As we age, our bodies change and although you may not display any clinical symptoms of infertility, we must take all measures into account when searching for a cause.
During the semen analysis, your physician will focus on the sperm's potential to fertilize the egg. Some of the parameters we check for in a semen analysis include:
If the analysis is abnormal, your doctor may also want to check for a hormonal imbalance by measuring the following hormone levels as well as checking for genetic defects:
The male partner will also undergo infectious disease testing, similar to the female partner, in order to check for hepatitis B surface antigens, hepatitis C antibodies, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and other infectious diseases.
The silver lining is that today there are very effective treatments for male factor infertility. Some of these treatment options include intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)—in which an embryologist injects a single, healthy sperm into the center of each egg. When very small amounts of sperm are found in the ejaculate, your physician can use techniques to retrieve sperm such as percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA)—when a doctor penetrates the scrotum with a needle and draws sperm into a syringe—or testicular sperm extraction (TESE), a technique to gather sperm by removing a small amount of testicular tissue.
It often comes as a shock to many men that the prevalence of male infertility is so high; probably because it isn’t a topic eagerly discussed among men, or couples even. However, it is very important to get a complete picture of the couple's situation in order to make the most effective and optimal treatment plan possible.
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