About 40% of all fertility problems couples experience are related to male fertility. Many otherwise completely healthy men produce poor quality sperm, or may have other issues such as low male sex hormones.
At Queensland Fertility Group, our expert fertility specialists and andrologists can help to diagnose male fertility issues and improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
The most important test for male fertility is a semen analysis, which is performed at our in-house andrology laboratory.
What is a semen analysis?
Semen analysis is the first and most important male fertility test. It accurately measures the number of sperm, their motility (ability to move), their morphology (size and shape), and the volume and consistency of the ejaculated sample.
It’s a simple test that tells us a lot about your fertility. Queensland Fertility Group can also support you with any diagnosis, treatment or surgery required to improve fertility, or to help you and you partner conceive.
How is a semen analysis done?
Getting a semen analysis can seem daunting for a lot of men, however in reality it's a very simple process:
Get a test request form and book an appointment
You Fertility Specialist or GP can provide a request form for a semen analysis, then you will just need to call your local QFG clinic to book an appointment.
Produce a semen sample
You will be required to produce a semen sample by masturbation, after at least three days abstinence from sexual activity. You should collect the entire ejaculated amount in a clean, dry container (provided by your Fertility Specialist or GP).
You can produce this sample in a private room at one of our clinics, or at home. If producing a sample at home, you or your partner will need to bring it in to the clinic within one hour.
Semen is analysed in a laboratory
Our Andrology scientists will analyse and measure the number of sperm present in the semen, their ability to move, their size and shape, and the volume and consistency of the ejaculated sample.
A normal sperm count is at least 15 million sperm per ml, with at least half showing good forward motility. If our scientists find abnormalities, they will generally perform more tests to identify the nature and degree of any problems.
Your results are explained
Your Specialist or GP will explain the results of your semen analysis to you. Sperm have a lifecycle of 72 days, so even if your results indicate that there may be problems with your sperm, you may be able to improve this with simple diet and lifestyle changes.
There can be a number of issues that we may find with sperm including:
- Azoospermia- an absence of any sperm in the semen
- Oligospermia- low numbers of sperm in the semen
- Sperm antibodies
What is a Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA)?
Many of our male patients will also have a Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) performed on their semen. It detects raised levels of sperm DNA fragmentation (damaged DNA in sperm) which have the potential to reduce the likelihood of embryos implanting or pregnancies continuing.
There are effective treatment strategies to minimise the effect of sperm DNA damage, such as using ICSI to isolate a single good sperm for fertilisation. QFG was a pioneered the introduction of the SCSA in Australia.
How is male infertility treated?
Once the semen analysis is complete our experts may recommend further test or treatments based on your results. Everyone’s situation is unique, but there are some common treatment options to improve male fertility and increase the chances of successful pregnancy:
- ICSI treatment (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is performed in conjunction with an IVF cycle and involves the direct injection of a single sperm into each egg using sophisticated equipment. It is usually recommended for couples where male fertility is a problem, especially relating to the number or quality of sperm produced. ICSI can also be used in cases where a man has had a vasectomy and sperm are removed surgically from the testes.
- A Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA) is a procedure where sperm is retrieved by a fine needle, which is passed through the skin of the scrotum, into the testes. The procedure may be done under a local or a general anaesthetic, depending on the anticipated difficulty in finding areas of reasonable sperm production.
- A Microepididymal Sperm Aspiration (MESA) or Testicular Biopsy is a procedure where the scrotum is opened to expose the testis and its epididymis. The epididymis may then be surgically opened and its fluid aspirated to see if it contains live sperm, or a piece of testicular tissue may be surgically excised and passed to a scientist who dissects the tubules to look for live sperm.
A vasectomy reversal is possible, but it does not guarantee that your sperm will be of sufficient quality to achieve unassisted fertilisation and often the above techniques are preferentially recommended.
For more information about male fertility issues and the treatments available, visit our Patient Information Booklets page.
To find out more about getting a semen analysis, or to book an appointment, call us on 1800 111 483 or send us an email enquiry.