A semen analysis, also called a sperm count, measures the quantity and quality of semen and sperm. Semen is the thick, white fluid released from the penis during sexual climax (orgasm). This release is called ejaculation. Semen contains sperm, the cells made in the male reproductive system that include the genetic material needed to make a baby.
If you and your partner haven't been able to get pregnant, a problem with semen or sperm may be one of the reasons. Problems such as a low sperm count or sperm that don't move properly can cause infertility, which is the inability to conceive a baby after a year of trying. A semen analysis can help figure out if a problem with semen or sperm is likely to be causing infertility.
A semen analysis is used to find out if a problem with semen or sperm may be causing infertility. The test may also be used to see if a vasectomy has been successful.
A vasectomy is a surgery on the male reproductive system that's done for birth control. To prevent pregnancy, a vasectomy cuts the tubes that carry sperm out of your testicles (testes) so that the sperm can't get into your semen. A semen analysis is usually done 8 to 16 weeks after a vasectomy to make sure your semen has no sperm.
You will need to provide a semen sample. For accurate the results, the semen must be examined quickly before the sperm begin to die. For this reason, you will usually provide a sample in a private room at a lab by masturbating and collecting your semen in a sterile container. You may be asked to urinate (pee) and wash your hands and penis before collecting your sample. This will help keep bacteria from your skin out of the sample.To get accurate results:
If you prefer, you may be able to collect your sample at home during sex by using a special type of condom that your provider gives you. But you will have to keep the sample at body temperature and take it to the lab within 30 to 60 minutes after collecting it.
You may need to provide two or more semen samples within a week or two. That's because your sperm count and semen quality can vary from day to day. Talk with your provider if you have questions or concerns about providing a semen sample.
You'll need to avoid all sexual activity that results in ejaculating sperm for 2-7 days before the sample is collected. This will help make sure your sperm count is at its highest level. Your provider will give you exact instructions.Are there any risks to the test? There is no known risk to a semen analysis. What do the results mean?
If your semen analysis results aren't all normal, it doesn't mean you're permanently infertile. But it does show that your sperm may be part of the problem you and your partner are having getting pregnant.
Your provider may order more tests to help find the cause of the problem so it can be treated. There are many possible causes, including:
Treatments for infertility depend on the cause. To help improve your chances of having a baby, your provider may refer you to a doctor who specializes in infertility.
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