Sperm Test

Lab-Testing

To determine whether a man might be infertile, a treating specialist can run different tests to reach a diagnosis.

Usually, doctors request a basic physical exam and a semen analysis, and often a blood test, to assess levels of hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH) and testosterone. Depending on the results, your treating doctor may require more checks, such as sperm DNA fragmentation, an immunobead test or a testicular biopsy. This section gives you detailed explanations of these male-specific tests.

 

Male Fertility Tests

Semen Analysis

A semen analysis evaluates the amount and quality of a man’s semen and sperm to determine fertility. This test is sometimes called a sperm count.

Semen analysis is used to assess the following:

  • Motility: movement of the sperm (swimming ability).
  • Morphology: percentage of sperm that have a normal shape.
  • Count: the number of individual sperm present in one ejaculation.
  • Vitality: the sperm’s ability to live and endure.

 

Why is it done?
Semen analysis can help clarify whether a man has a reproductive problem that is causing infertility, and determine what treatment options are reasonable. A severely low sperm count or low motility may indicate the need for an advanced approach, whereas a normal semen analysis might suggest a more conservative strategy.

 

How is it done?
A semen sample is usually collected by masturbation, directing the fluid into a sterile container. No lubricant should be used as it might kill the sperm. Two to five days of abstinence is recommended before semen analysis, to ensure the reliability of the test. Longer periods of abstinence may affect the accuracy of the results (less active sperm).

Once the semen sample has been collected, it should be delivered to the lab within one hour and kept close to body temperature.

Download PDF - Click Here - 150 pix

To learn more, please read our Semen Analysis Fact Sheet.

Sperm DNA Fragmentation

This test provides a reliable analysis of sperm DNA integrity and may help to identify men who are at risk of failing to initiate a healthy, ongoing pregnancy. Information about sperm DNA integrity may help in the clinical diagnosis, management and treatment of male infertility.

 

Why is it done?
The genetic integrity of the sperm is essential for normal embryo development. A high level of DNA fragmentation in sperm cells may represent a cause of male infertility that a conventional semen analysis (sperm concentration, motility analysis or morphology assessment) will not detect.

Results reported in scientific literature have shown that, regardless of the assisted reproductive technology (ART) used, an elevated level of sperm DNA fragmentation will significantly compromise the possibility of a successful pregnancy.

 

How is it done?
The sperm are captured within an inert agarose gel. These are treated with an acid denaturant, which removes already fragmented DNA. The remaining material is then treated with a lysing agent, which frees the intact DNA into the agarose gel. This gel is then stained to highlight the released DNA and evaluated to determine the degree of fragmented versus intact DNA.

Depending on what caused the damage to the sperm DNA, there may be a way to improve it. Some options are to change to a healthier lifestyle, quit smoking, avoid exposure to toxins, and take a daily supplement of antioxidants and zinc. Further clinical options can be discussed with one of our specialists.

Download PDF - Click Here - 150 pix

To learn more, please read our Sperm DNA Fragmentation Fact Sheet.

Immunobead Test (IBT)

An immunobead test (IBT) checks for antisperm antibodies.

Immunological infertility occurs most often in men. The male immune system can react to its own sperm as if they were invading cells, possibly because of an infection, cancer or a vasectomy. The presence of antibodies can inhibit the ability of the sperm to fertilise an egg.

If the cause of the immunological infertility is related to the female, the current theories are that cervical mucus can kill sperm. However, this theory is unproven.

 

Why is it done?
An IBT can detect different kinds of antisperm antibodies in several biological samples. The test can indicate the class and severity of the antibodies and what part of the sperm is affected.

An IBT can also help to determine the fertility treatment options that best suit a couple.

 

How is it done?
At City Fertility Centre, we carry out “direct” immunobead testing on the semen sample itself. In this test, a small portion of the neat semen sample is mixed and incubated with latex beads and antibodies, then checked for a reaction. A positive reaction is where the sperm and beads become bound to each other.

Testicular Biopsy

A testicular biopsy, also known as testicular sperm aspiration (TESA), is a test in which sperm is extracted directly from the testicles for analysis.

 

Why is it done?
A testicular biopsy is performed when the male partner does not have sperm in his seminal fluid. This could be due to a number of factors, including a vasectomy, failed vasectomy reversal, obstruction, retrograde ejaculation, abnormal anatomy (such as an absence of the vas deferens) or certain genetic defects.

 

How is it done?
Sperm are produced within a network of tiny tubes called “seminiferous tubules” inside the testicles. In the TESA procedure, a fine needle is passed into the testicles under anaesthetic, and a tiny amount of tubules is removed. These tubules are then processed in the laboratory and checked for the presence of sperm, which can either be used to fertilise eggs or frozen for use in the future with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – a specialised form of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).

Sperm retrieved from the seminiferous tubules in a testicular biopsy procedure are less mature and less motile than those found in ejaculated seminal fluid. As such, IVF with ICSI is required to achieve fertilisation with TESA sperm.

Male Infertility Screening Tests

Screening tests and other diagnostic checks for severe male infertility are:

  • Genetic testing (chromosomal).
  • Microdeletion.
  • Nuclear Chromatin Fragmentation.
  • Hormonal screens.
  • Cystic fibrosis screening.

 

Watch Dr David Wilkinson as he shares advice on when to have a fertility check.

Please note: This video may not be copied or used, whole or in part, without the prior written permission of City Fertility Centre © 2015.

 

Need more information?

Come to our next Fertility Information Session. Register online.

 

 

 

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