A basic fertility evaluation involves many complex parts. We have to look at several different factors to help determine the best course of treatment to help you achieve your goal of building your family.
Fertility generally includes two major factors: male fertility and female fertility. While we will address all of them during the process, in this blog we focus on male fertility and one of the tests we’ll perform. Dr. Edward J. Ramirez at The Fertility & Gynecology Center - Monterey Bay IVF explains more about what we can learn from a common test called an automated semen analysis.
Why automated semen analysis is one of our initial tests
When you come in for a fertility evaluation, one of the first tests we’ll order is called an automated semen analysis.
This test is essential because it gives Dr. Ramirez an excellent insight into any potential male factors that may affect your fertility as a couple. Sometimes, semen may be insufficient for conceiving a child. The problems with semen may include abnormally-shaped sperm (called morphology), how well the semen moves within the sample (called motility), or the total number of sperm available in the sample (called total sperm count.)
Any one of these factors can often be significant enough to limit or completely prevent conception. It’s also possible to have a combination of all three factors present in the sperm sample.
How we obtain a sample for evaluation
Although many people think that obtaining a sperm sample requires a potentially embarrassing public effort to produce one, this is not always the case.
While we do have a collection room located on the premises if a male partner is comfortable with providing one in that way, that’s not strictly required. You can also bring a sample from home if you’re more comfortable with that. The only requirement is that you get it to us within an hour of collection and keep the sample at close to body temperature while you’re transporting it.
In general, we usually have the results of a semen analysis within a week from the time you provide the sample.
What to do if the sample is abnormal
If the semen sample is abnormal, remember, this is not a sign that you won’t be able to conceive.
Many men have abnormal semen samples. Sperm counts are decreasing, in part because of environmental factors that few of us can control. The same is true for semen motility and morphology.
If a man has abnormal sperm, this is something that we can address.
One solution is an intrauterine insemination (IUI.) While this may sound a bit intimidating, it’s actually quite a simple process. The male partner will provide another sperm sample. We will then “wash” the sperm sample, which provides a concentrated form of semen. It is then inserted into the female partner’s cervix using a thin catheter. This process usually feels similar to a Pap smear for most women.
If a man doesn’t have enough sperm to result in conception, a couple can use donor sperm.
If infertility is due to female factors, the woman may be given medications to induce ovulation, or we may recommend a few cycles of in-vitro fertilization.
If you’re having difficulty conceiving a child, your best option is to schedule an appointment for a basic fertility evaluation, including automated semen analysis. Call or send us an online message today. Our greatest goal is to help you build your family in whatever way possible.