Fertility tests for men can be an important step on the way to becoming a parent. Finding out if there’s a reason why you’re having fertility problems is the best way to get the care you need. The good news if you’re about to have a male fertility assessment is that the tests are very safe, simple and non-invasive.
Why Are Male Fertility Tests Important?
Infertility is an issue that can affect both men and women, so it’s essential for both partners to be checked if you’re having trouble conceiving. The results can ensure that you get the right treatment to help you to have a baby. For example, the results of male fertility tests can reveal whether you might benefit from a procedure called ICSI, which can give your sperm a little extra help during IVF.
Having a Male Fertility Check
Lots of different factors can affect your fertility, so a full assessment will look at various aspects of your health to identify potential issues. A male fertility check may include:
- Discussion of your lifestyle, such as your diet, how much exercise you do, how much you drink, and whether you smoke
- Evaluation of your medical history, including any medications you’re taking
- Talking about your sex life and how long you’ve been trying for a baby
- A physical exam to check your general health and look for issues with the penis or testicles that could be affecting your fertility
- A blood test to check the levels of testosterone and other hormones, which can be responsible for fertility problems in some men
Sperm and Semen Analysis
One of the main parts of a male fertility assessment is an analysis of your semen and the sperm cells it contains. You will need to provide a fresh sample, usually at the clinic. It will then be sent to the lab and examined under the microscope. The semen analysis will consider:
- The amount of semen that was produced
- The viscosity (thickness) and pH (acidity) of the semen
- Sperm count, the number of sperm cells that are present
- Sperm motility or how well the sperm cells are moving
- Shape and appearance of the sperm cells
One thing that surprises many men is how low these numbers can be even when you are completely normal and fertile. Men can produce large numbers of sperm cells, so it is very common for lots of them to have poor motility or abnormal shapes. If at least half of the sperm have good motility and a regular appearance, this is considered normal and shouldn’t cause any fertility problems.
What Happens Next?
Once all of your fertility checks are complete, your doctor will explain the results to you. Depending on what was found, you might get some lifestyle advice to improve your fertility or recommendations for treatments that could help. You might need surgery to correct structural issues with your testicles, surgical collection of the sperm from your testicles, or IVF treatment with or without ICSI. The results from your partner’s fertility tests may also need to be considered in order to give you the best chances.