Sperm Testing And Evaluation

Today there are many different kinds of tests available to determine the efficacy of a man's sperm. When a couple has experienced some difficulty with conception, they usually are tested by their physician to determine if they need to obtain specific treatment. It is prudent that both the man and woman undergo testing and, to that end, there are several tests a man may undergo in order to determine the cause of infertility. Nearly 50 percent of all cases of infertility are related to male fertility issues and, of that number, male infertility accounts for one-third of all cases.

The First And Most Common Test-Semen Analysis

The most common tests performed are semen analysis to determine if the problem of infertility lies with the man. Generally the basic information provided by these tests is sperm concentration, motility and appearance. If the count is low, then blood tests will be run to determine the levels of hormones that are necessary for reproduction. Infection is checked through a urinalysis. The urinalysis will also indicate if there is sperm in the urine which means there is a problem with retrograde ejaculation. Once all of these tests are complete, the attention usually goes to the woman.

What Happens If The Problem Persists?

If further testing on the man is needed, additional sperm analysis is done. Some of these types of tests include sperm agglutination which determines whether the sperm are clumping together. If they are, then they will not be able to navigate in the cervical mucus. SPA (sperm penetration assays), also known as hamster tests, is a test in which the laboratory technician observes whether the man's sperm is able to penetrate a specially prepared hamster egg. This test has been a fairly good indicator that if a man's sperm is able to penetrate the hamster egg, there is some assurance that it will be able to achieve fertilization as well. If the sperm fails the hamster test, then in vitro fertilization is recommended using ICSI.

Post-Coital Testing-The His And Hers Test

Post-coital testing, known as the Huhner test or the Sims-Huhner test, is considered to be a valid and worthwhile test which should be run early in the evaluation of the couple. This test is used to evaluate the woman's cervical mucus at the time of ovulation and how it interacts with the sperm. When it is evident that ovulation is about to occur, determined through the testing of LH, hormones blood tests and ultrasound, the couple is instructed to have intercourse and then report to the clinic. The test is done in the clinic about six to ten hours after intercourse. A small amount of mucus is extracted from the cervix and examined. If the test is favorable, there will be many sperm present with good forward motility in the mucus. If the initial test is unfavorable, another exam may be required with a wait time of only two to three hours. Timing is very important in the post coital exam because if it is done too soon after intercourse sperm, which seem to be normal and strong, may die later. The initial response of the sperm may create a false sense of expectancy.