What is a Sperm Analysis Test, and What Happens Next?

As every couple who is trying to conceive knows, it can get stressful at times. Not understanding why and how your attempts aren’t working can become frustrating, especially when you feel as though you are taking all the right steps. The sensible thing to do is to look for any cause or causes of your infertility, which includes any medical reasons. 

Sperm analysis is one of the steps that can be taken. For around 40% of couples who are having problems conceiving, the cause of their infertility is sperm-related. Female factor infertility accounts for another 40% of couples struggling to conceive, with the remaining 20% of cases being unexplained. This means that any difficulties being faced by a couple are equally likely to lie with either partner. This is a great reason why couples should have a sperm analysis test. 

Many couples have never considered a male fertility test, and aren’t quite sure what to expect. Here’s everything you need to know. 

When should you seek a sperm analysis test?

The normal advice is to seek medical advice if you have not managed to conceive after one year of trying for a baby. However, depending on your age and that of your partner, you could be better advised to start the process after 6 months. When you reach the point where you have decided to seek assistance, it may be comforting to know that currently approximately 15% of the world’s population have problems conceiving, with half being due to sperm related issues. It is a very common situation and you shouldn’t feel alone or disheartened if you are at the point of seeking help. 

What is a Sperm Analysis Test?

Sperm analysis is a male fertility test that does exactly what it sounds like. It is a simple procedure that analyses a semen sample in a lab to check the quality and quantity of the sperm. They will be looking for the number, activity level, shape and movement of the sperm, comparing it against the normal benchmark range of 39 million in the ejaculation. The sperm test results should show approximately 32% of sperm to have progressive motility for it to be considered healthy. 

Results from your sperm test results are generally available within a week. The test may be repeated to confirm the results. If the sperm analysis results show a low sperm count or any other abnormalities, you will have the opportunity to discuss with your medical advisor what the options are for the next steps.

How to prepare for your Sperm Analysis test

If you have decided to have a sperm analysis test, there are things you can do to make the process run more smoothly. Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions and ask if there’s anything you need to do in advance, such as refraining from ejaculating for a certain period of time or stopping certain medications. You can also keep a note of your symptoms, and personal information such as key life changes as these may be playing a role. Being aware of your family history, and finding out if there were any issues in childhood are all things you can do to prepare for your male fertility test. 

What are the causes of a low sperm count or sperm sub-fertility?

A low sperm count can sometimes stem from low sperm production in the testicles. This is connected to the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, which produces hormones that regulate the sperm. It can also be due to genetics, or other testicular problems. 

Other sperm abnormalities that can occur include issues with motility and shape, which can be caused by infection. Existing medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders and kidney disease can have a similar effect, as can certain medications, drug use, tobacco and stress.

What does sperm analysis test tell you, and what can you do next?

If your sperm test results show a low sperm count, don’t panic. This is a very common problem, and there are a number of options available depending on the cause. If your sperm analysis test shows a low sperm count, IVF could be an option to consider. During the process, the egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and mixed with healthy sperm in a laboratory. This increases the chances of the healthy sperm that is being produced being successful. Other possibilities include treatment with gonadotropin hormones, surgery to reverse a vasectomy, or donor insemination.

Lifestyle changes can also increase sperm count, such as having sex more frequently. Having sexual intercourse everyday or every other day beginning at least four days before ovulation increases your chances of getting your partner pregnant. Try and keep it light, and low pressure, so the process remains enjoyable. Working out a woman’s fertile window is also key, and gives the sperm a higher chance of being successful. 

Remember, you aren’t in this alone! Communication is key, and remaining open and honest with your partner about how your feeling are all great ways to decrease the stress.