Semen analysis is a test, or a series of tests, that checks the health of a man's sperm. It is used to help diagnose why a couple is having trouble getting pregnant.
Infertility is defined as a couple being unable to become pregnant after having regular, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year. Semen analysis can help a doctor learn if infertility is caused by the man's body producing no sperm, too few sperm, or defective sperm that die before the woman's egg can be fertilized.
The test may also be used after a man has had a vasectomy (sterilization surgery) to make sure his semen contains no sperm.
Semen is the thick, white fluid produced by a man during sexual intercourse. For semen analysis, a man will need to provide his doctor with one or more samples of semen. Each sample is collected after a short period of abstinence – usually two to three days.
In most cases, a sample is collected in a private room near the laboratory. The man masturbates into a clean container, and delivers the sample to the laboratory. A sample can also be collected by using a special condom during intercourse. The sample must be analyzed within two hours of the collection.
The semen sample will be tested for the number of sperm, the shape of the sperm, and how well the sperm swim. The laboratory will also check for white blood cells in the semen, which can indicate an infection.
You may return home after the test and resume your normal activities.
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