Three Types of Male Fertility Tests


6:50 am September 16, 2011


We typically think of infertility as a woman’s issue, but in around half of all reported cases of infertility in the United States, the males have their share of the problem too. If you are having troubles getting pregnant and you can’t find any reason for it, you might want to suggest to your partner to undergo a male fertility test. Some men may feel indignant at the thought, but the earlier you can get a diagnosis for your inability to conceive, the higher your chances of reversing your problem.

It’s important to familiarize yourself and your partner about what male fertility test a urologist may ask him to undergo.

Semen Analysis

This is the most basic male fertility test, where your partner is asked to provide a fresh sample of semen to be examined by his urologist. For a sample to provide the most accurate results possible, your partner should abstain from ejaculating two days before the test, but not more than five days. This ensures that he gets the highest concentration of sperm cells for testing. Different factors are examined during a semen analysis, including the following:

  • Semen. A healthy ejaculation should have a whitish gray color and should be around two to five milliliters or one-half to one tablespoon in volume.
  • Sperm Count. The normal sperm count is approximately 20 million per milliliter of semen, or around 100 million sperm cells in one semen sample. However, a low sperm count does not necessarily indicate male infertility, as several other factors come into play.
  • Sperm Motility. This refers to the movement of the sperm cells. The most motile sperm cells travel rapidly in a straight line and the least motile are those that squirm at a sluggish pace. Poor sperm motility can be treated with methods such as artificial insemination.

Physical Examination

Another kind of male fertility test is done by checking the size, weight, and appearance of the genital organs for detecting abnormalities and obstructions in the male reproductive system. Varicoceles, for example, are formations of veins above the testicles that can easily be corrected once detected. The urologist may also check for soft testicles that may indicate a low sperm count. On the other hand, normal testicles accompanied by a low sperm count may be a sign of a physical obstruction that can be easily removed through surgery.

Blood Tests

Although many experts believe that there is a small fraction of male infertility cases that is caused by hormonal imbalances, doctors resort to a blood test if every other male fertility test did not show conclusive evidence that may back up a diagnosis. A blood test may be used for testing the levels of hormones, including testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). Abnormally high levels of FSH and abnormally low levels of testosterone indicate problems in the production of healthy sperm cells. Blood tests can also be used to check for infections and sexual disorders, such as Chlamydia, HIV, and hepatitis, which may be causing fertility problems.

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