We at the Los Angeles Reproductive Center have found that one-third of infertility cases is the result of male-factor infertility, and another third is the result of combined male and female infertility. Sperm testing is performed to determine the root cause of causes of infertility that a couple faces. It’s a common sense way to evaluate the health and quality of the sperm and then determine the ideal course of action.
Dr. Marc Kalan, Dr. Nurit Winkler, and the team at our Los Angeles, CA infertility clinic would like to go over the basics of sperm testing. By covering some general aspects of semen analysis and male fertility testing, we hope you can understand some of the different causes of infertility that affect men.
When Should I Undergo Sperm Testing?
If you and your partner have attempted to conceive for several months to a year without success, it’s a good idea to see a fertility specialist. Sperm testing as well as other professional fertility evaluations can be performed.
Sperm count refers to the concentration of sperm in your semen. An average sperm count is roughly 15 million sperm per millimeter of semen. A low sperm count (oligospermia) makes it much harder to conceive. It is also possible for a man to have no sperm in his semen (azoospermia).
Sperm motility refers to the ability of the sperm to swim. Some men may have sperm that is lethargic or unable to maneuver and swim properly. If the sperm has trouble swimming, that means a greater difficulty making it to a waiting egg and fertilizing it.
In the most basic terms, sperm has three main body segments: a head, a mid piece, and a tail. Abnormalities in a sperm’s anatomy could affect motility as well as overall health and viability. Anatomical sperm abnormalities may include an enlarged or small head, a short tail, an elongated tail, and even multiple heads and tails.
In addition to focusing on the sperm, fertility specialists can also evaluate the nature of your semen. Some factors that will be considered include:
- Semen Volume - If you do not produce enough semen when you ejaculate, conceiving will be much more challenging.
- pH Balance - Having semen that is too acidic or too alkaline can have a negative effect on your sperm.
- Semen Thickness - Semen starts out with a thick consistency after ejaculation but eventually liquefies. Failure to liquefy or issues with liquefaction can negatively effect your sperm.
Using Test Results to Determine the Next Step
As tests come back, your fertility doctor will use the data to determine the next course of action. If you have problems with sperm count, motility, or morphology, your doctor can discuss various options to improve these factors. Other times a doctor will need to run more tests to determine if there is another underlying factor that impacts your fertility.
Ultimately these sperm tests will play an important first step in helping you get the fertility treatment or treatments you need.
Learn More About Fertility Testing and Treatment
For more information about semen analysis and other male infertility tests that can help you start a family, be sure to contact our team of fertility testing specialists. The Los Angeles Reproductive Center is here to help. You can reach our office by phone at (818) 208-5481.