Male factor infertility accounts for approximately 40% of those couples failing to conceive. Therefore, despite its well‐known limitations a detailed semen analysis is an essential step in diagnosing the cause of infertility as well as providing information on the most appropriate treatment options for a couple trying to achieve a pregnancy.
It is important to remember that even with very low sperm counts it is possible to achieve a pregnancy following sexual intercourse.
What does a Sperm Test actually test?
Normally men produce approximately 1,000 sperm every second, but the sperm count can vary noticeably in both fertile and sub‐fertile individuals. To make an accurate assessment of sperm quality scientists take a semen sample and analyse it under a microscope. From these samples they can then estimate:
- the concentration of sperm
- the total sperm count
- the percentage of motile or moving sperm
- how well the sperm can move
- how much they stick together
- the number of sperm that have a normal appearance (morphology).
What does the procedure involve?
- The seminal sample is delivered in a special container provided by Care Fertility following collection either at home or at Care Fertility Andrology rooms.
- Care Fertility scientists analyse it under a microscope.
What is the Semen sample procedure?
- Before doing the test, you should abstain from sexual intercourse, or ejaculation, for two or three days before providing a semen sample, but no more than 5 days.
- The semen sample can be collected at your home if you have less than one hour’s travel time from your home to Care Fertility. The anticipated time of delivery of the sample should be arranged with the scientific staff of Care Fertility. There is also a private Andrology room that you can book with Care Fertility.
- The entire ejaculate should be collected by masturbation into the container provided (withdrawal intercourse or lubricants should not be used).
- The lid should be secured firmly in place, the label completed with the man’s name and date of birth and signed. The sample jar should then be placed in the ziplock plastic bag provided, kept at room temperature, kept upright and delivered to Care Fertility within one hour of collection.
- Book with Care Fertility for the semen sample to be processed at the time of delivery.
- The request form from the doctor should be brought with the semen sample and the middle section of the form should be completed by the man providing the sample.
- It may be necessary to complete a form at the reception area of Care Fertility before the sample can be received.
The cost of having a Semen Analysis
The cost of having a semen analysis performed by Care Fertility is $130 (price subject to change without notice so please contact Care Fertility reception for confirmation of price) and the reception staff will be able to provide information on the Medicare rebate for the service.
Semen collection methods
Collection of sample by masturbation
This is the preferred method. You will receive a container with your full name, date of birth, partner’s name and time of collection. Unlabelled specimens cannot be used and another sample will need to be collected.
Collection of sample by sexual intercourse
This requires the supply of a special condom (free of lubricants and other chemicals which are toxic to sperm) obtained from the scientific staff of Care Fertility. The ejaculate should be contained within the condom and the sample together with the condom placed in the labelled specimen jar for delivery to the laboratory at Care Fertility.
Freezing of semen samples
If the male has a poor sperm count or anticipates difficultly producing semen on the day it is required semen can be frozen. Generally this is performed at least three weeks prior to the date the semen is likely to be required. Semen quality is reduced by freezing and thawing and fertilisation and pregnancy cannot be guaranteed. Costs are incurred for the freezing of each sample and for the ongoing storage of the samples. Often more than 2 or 3 ejaculates are required. Please discuss this with your doctor if you wish to freeze semen.
Difficulties obtaining the semen sample
When men have difficulty producing a sample or are anxious about quality of sample a couple of hours break (e.g. a walk or watching a movie) may help. Please inform the staff of Care Fertility so the scientists schedules can be readjusted.
If you anticipate having difficulties producing a semen sample on the day or have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection please discuss this with your doctor well in advance of the anticipated egg collection so appropriate treatments can be instituted.