Male Fertility Tests: Know Your Options, Procedure, Results, And More
A sperm and an egg fuse to form a zygote that further develops into a baby. Therefore, you may say that men are equally responsible for pregnancy.
Similar to the fertility ratio, men may have an equal role in not being able to get pregnant, i.e., male infertility. Hence, it’s essential to learn and accept the reasons behind the inability to get a baby after regular sexual activities.
Male infertility may arise due to several underlying conditions, but one could treat it with proper treatment, medications, and sometimes even with the help of foods that increase sperm count. But, before thinking of treatment, it’s essential to undergo a fertility test.
Fertility testing is crucial in evaluating and treating the fertility of an individual. A man may undergo multiple tests to determine the cause of infertility.
This article will discuss different types of fertility tests and their roles in causing infertility in men.
Male Fertility Test
Male infertility is a common issue that doesn’t allow a male to impregnate a female. Multiple surveys and reviews have suggested that every sixth couple worldwide struggles with infertility problems.
Male infertility may occur due to multiple reasons listed below:
- Azoospermia: A condition in which the male partner cannot produce sperm cells.
- Oligospermia: The male partner produces low or unhealthy sperm.
- Malformed Sperm: The inability of the sperm to live long enough to fertilize the egg.
- Varicoceles: A medical condition in which the testicle veins widen or become larger than usual. These larger veins cause overheating conditions in the testicles resulting in an unhealthy shape and number of sperm.
- Hormonal Disorder: Several disorders affecting the hypothalamus or pituitary gland may contribute to infertility in men.
- Certain Medical Conditions: Several medical conditions, medications, and treatments like cancer, autoimmune disorders, etc., may cause infertility.
- Unhealthy Habits: Men consuming drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and other harmful substances may struggle to retain fertility.
Generally, male infertility is a temporary problem, but it gets permanent in rare conditions. You may regain fertility by undergoing treatment and leading a healthy lifestyle.
The treatment of male infertility begins with a physical diagnosis to check the overall health condition. Moreover, a physical diagnosis may help determine any physical condition causing infertility.
The healthcare specialists may also ask you questions related to past health issues. If the physical examination doesn’t conclude, the doctors may ask you to undergo different male fertility tests to determine the cause.
Semen analysis is a highly recommended test to diagnose infertility in men. In this test, a sample of semen is tested to check the sperm count, health, and viability.
Generally, doctors may ask for two to three semen analysis tests to better understand sperm health. The tests would be conducted every seventh day for two months.
In the end, the doctors take the average or relate the observations to conclude the result of the semen analysis.
At first, semen is collected via different methods like masturbation, sex with a condom, or withdrawing before ejaculation. But, masturbation is a recommended method to get an uncontaminated semen sample.
The collected sample is stored at optimum temperature, i.e., slightly above body temperature, to keep the sperm alive.
But, the collected sample should be transferred to the testing facility within 30-60 minutes to get accurate results.
It would be best if you avoid ejaculation 24-72 hours before semen analysis. Moreover, consuming alcohol or other drugs may impact the result of semen analysis.
In the semen analysis test, the following results could be collected.
- Sperm Count: A healthy fertile man should have a sperm count of 20-200 million. Anyone having below the average count may fail to impregnate a lady.
- Sperm Shape: Sperm shape has a significant role in a man’s fertility. Any person with less than 50 percent healthy sperm may experience symptoms of infertility.
- Sperm Movement: If the sperm have a regular movement, they may easily fuse the egg. Hence, a fertile man must have 50 or above percent sperm moving normally even after one hour of ejaculation.
- Sperm pH: The average sperm pH should be between 7.2-7.8. If the pH moves above 8, it may indicate infection.
- Liquefaction: Generally, healthy semen takes 15-30 minutes to liquefy. But, if it liquefies earlier or later than the average time, it may affect men’s fertility.
Urinalysis is the process of examining the urine to check its chemical and physical properties of the urine. For fertility testing, doctors recommend undergoing urinalysis after ejaculation.
The post-ejaculatory urinalysis allows the detection of some underlying conditions leading to infertility in men.
After ejaculation, a man should adequately wipe the penis tip as it may help avoid contamination of the sample. Start urinating and collect up to 30-60 milliliters of urine in the container.
After collecting the sample, try to deliver it within 60 minutes of collection or refrigerate the sample, if required.
- Presence Of WBC: The presence of leukocytes (WBC) could be an alarming situation as it indicates an infection that may harm sperm. Moreover, these infections may lead to infertility in some men.
- Retrograde Ejaculation: If the collected urine sample contains some semen, it may indicate retrograde ejaculation. In this condition, the semen fails to ejaculate out of the penis and stays in the bladder.
- Identifies Normozoospermic Infertility: Some doctors recommend urinalysis to track the five biomarkers levels in the urine. The level of these small molecules may help to diagnose normozoospermic infertility.
Hormone testing is another method to determine the hormonal level responsible for healthy sperm production.
Hormone testing allows the evaluation of testosterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels in the body.
Sometimes Serum LH and prolactin hormone testing may be conducted to evaluate the cause of infertility in men.
Hormones like testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, etc., could be tested by taking blood samples. The pathologist will take your blood sample using a syringe and transfer it to a small container.
Then, the collected sample would be used for hormone testing.
- Testosterone: Testosterone level may have a significant impact on male fertility. It is the primary male sex hormone; hence, a drop in testosterone level may impact men’s sexual health and fertility.
- FSH: The follicle-stimulating hormone should be present at a balanced level for the healthy production of sperm. A Higher FSH level would mean poor functioning of testicles, while a lower FSH level would indicate low or stopped sperm production.
Anti-Sperm Antibodies Testing
Anti-sperm antibody test checks the presence of anti-sperm antibodies in the semen. Antisperm antibodies mistakenly fight against the sperm, considering them invaders.
Hence, sperm fights to survive in the semen, resulting in men’s infertility. Prostate infection or testicular injuries in men may produce anti-sperm antibodies leading to the above condition.
To evaluate the presence of anti-sperm antibodies, doctors will ask you for the semen sample. You would be asked to ejaculate and collect a fresh sample of semen in a sterile container.
You may collect the sample at the clinic in a private chamber or collect it at home. But, you must submit the sample within 60 minutes of ejaculation for accurate results.
Moreover, doctors may ask you not to ejaculate for 2-3 days before semen collection.
The anti-sperm antibody test checks the presence of a specific protein that may be responsible for the death of healthy sperm.
Hence, the presence of these proteins may result in low sperm count and may lead to infertility in specific cases.
Testicular biopsy is a surgical method of removing overgrown or blocking tissues in the testicles. After removal, the tissue is examined under the microscope to understand the condition better.
A testicular biopsy is done after studying the semen analysis findings.
The testicular biopsy could be done in two ways, i.e., open or needle biopsy, based on the reasons for the test.
Surgeons will inject a local anesthetic to numb the testicular region. A surgical procedure is followed to remove a small tissue from the testicles for further analysis.
Doctors may ask you to avoid taking aspirin or medications containing aspirin for one week before the procedure.
A testicular biopsy could help determine several underlying conditions responsible for male infertility. Some of the common findings of testicular biopsy are as follows:
- It may help to determine any blockage causing low sperm production.
- It may allow easy retrieval of sperm for in-vitro fertilization.
- It may help to find the cause of testicular lumps.
- It may diagnose growing or existing testicular cancer.
Genetic testing is performed to identify the role of genetic conditions in causing infertility in a man. Moreover, the test detects any genetic irregularities resulting in reduced sperm production.
Doctors prefer or suggest undergoing three types of genetic testing, i.e., karyotype analysis (KA), Y-chromosome deletion testing, and CFTR mutation testing.
A sample of DNA is collected from the patient to undergo genetic testing. Different methods are used to detect abnormalities or irregularities in DNA sequence or shape resulting in male infertility.
People suffering from azoospermia or oligozoospermia may find the actual cause of the condition. The finding may help avoid unnecessary treatments or surgeries to treat low sperm production.
Moreover, it may help to relieve any uncertainty related to male infertility.
A proper diagnosis may help you conclude quickly. Male infertility could be diagnosed in multiple ways, as listed above.
But, doctors may not ask you to undergo all the tests, as a few tests would help determine the cause. Hence, if you doubt your fertility, feel free to ask your doctor to recommend you for appropriate tests.