A semen analysis involves a man providing a sample of his sperm. A lab will evaluate the sperm for things like sperm count and motility, which determines how effectively they move through a woman’s reproductive system to reach and fertilize an egg.
Before the test, doctors will usually instruct a patient to abstain from sexual activity and masturbation for two to seven days. This helps ensure the sperm sample is fresh and sterile.
1. Doctor’s Office
Doctors will use a special microscope to examine the sample of sperm that is provided by the patient. A basic semen analysis looks at four major categories: sperm volume, shape, movement and DNA fragmentation. These can help doctors determine if a man’s sperm has the ability to fertilize an egg. Semen tests also can detect certain conditions that may be affecting fertility, such as the presence of a blockage in a man’s reproductive tract or low testosterone levels.
In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may order blood tests that look for hormones that affect fertility. They may also order a hysterosalpingogram, which uses X-rays to look at the inside of your fallopian tubes and uterus to see if there are any problems that could prevent sperm from reaching an egg or a fertilized egg attaching (implanting) to the uterus.
Some doctors may offer a self-collection kit, which allows men to collect a sample of their sperm at home using a specialized condom, and then mail the sample to the doctor’s office for testing. These kits are a great option for men who have difficulty getting to their doctor’s office or prefer the convenience of being able to test themselves at home. However, they do not provide as comprehensive a picture of the sperm’s quality as a lab-tested sample.
A semen analysis is a lab test that evaluates a man’s semen and sperm. It can be used as a fertility test or to determine whether a vasectomy was successful.
With a semen analysis, doctors examine several factors of the sample including its volume and the number of sperm present. They also look at how motile the sperm are and their shape, called morphology. Lastly, doctors evaluate the pH level of the sample to see if it is too acidic and could be affecting sperm health.
For the best results, a doctor will recommend abstaining from sexual activity for 2-7 days prior to taking the test. Men should also avoid using lubricants or condoms that contain lubricant and should make sure they collect the sample at room temperature.
Men who choose to take a semen analysis at home can follow certain guidelines, such as abstaining from sexual activity for 2-3 days before generating a sample and avoiding lubricants and saliva. If they want to get the most accurate results, a few tests taken over a couple of weeks can give more reliable results since sperm counts can vary day-to-day.
A good home sperm test will have instructions on how to collect and transport the sample, including when it should be collected. It’s important to transport the sample immediately so that it can be analyzed within 30 minutes of being collected.
3. Self-Collection Kit
A home sperm test is good for anyone who wants to know more about their fertility, particularly those with concerns about being able to get pregnant or to verify that a vasectomy worked. These tests are also useful for determining if there is a problem with sperm production that should be addressed by a urologist.
These kits, such as Legacy’s, have been scientifically validated to provide accurate results for five key metrics: sperm count, motility, concentration, semen volume, and sperm morphology. The kit has a state-of-the-art transport medium that protects the sample for overnight shipping and keeps it at body temperature until it is ready to be analyzed in the lab.
With the help of the instructions included with the test, you will collect a sample of your semen by masturbating into a sterile container. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully and avoid contaminating the sample by using saliva or lubricant, as these will affect your test results. You will also likely be asked to urinate and wash your hands and penis to prevent bacteria from your skin from contaminating the sample.
It’s also important to follow the instructions carefully about when to abstain from ejaculating as doing so too soon or too late can change your results. Once the sample is collected, it should be returned to the lab quickly to avoid a decrease in sperm quality that can affect test results.
If you prefer to avoid a doctor’s office and its associated costs, there are at-home semen tests that measure sperm count. They typically require a sample that you collect using a specialized condom. Most of these test kits offer results in two to five days after sample collection. They are highly accurate, as long as you follow the instructions carefully. They can tell you about your sperm count, sperm volume, sperm shape (morphology), sperm motility, and the pH of your semen. Some even check for leukocytes, white blood cells that can indicate an infection or other health issues.
Some at-home sperm tests are designed to be used with a partner, so you can get the results together. They are also much less expensive than a sperm analysis performed at a clinic or laboratory.
One thing to consider before choosing an at-home sperm test is that the data they provide only measures a small number of important factors that may affect fertility. According to Kallen, a lab-based test done by a trained andrologist provides more comprehensive information about the overall quality of your semen, including morphology, volume, sperm motility, and a detailed report on the pH and DNA fragmentation of your sperm.
It is important to note that you should not take an at-home sperm test right before sex because your sample may contain dead sperm. It’s best to test a few months before trying to conceive, so you can see how your sperm count and semen quality change over time.