About 40% of all fertility problems couples experience are to do with the male. Many men are otherwise completely healthy, yet produce poor quality sperm, or may have other issues such as low male sex hormones.
Luckily at Queensland Fertility Group our expert fertility specialists and andrologists can help to diagnose the issues and improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy. Our andrology laboratories provide a full range of analytical services, including routine semen analysis, sperm antibodies,and tests for sperm DNA damage and sperm chromosome normality.
What is a semen analysis?
Semen analysis is the first step and the 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 does a semen analysis work?
Produce a semen sample by masturbation, after at least three days abstinence from sexual activity. Collect the entire ejaculated amount in a clean, dry container and bring it to us within one hour. We will supply the container, or you can get one from your GP.
If you prefer, you can produce the sample in a private room at one of our clinics.
Our andrology scientists then assess semen appearance, colour, pH and leucocyte presence. They count the number of sperm and their motility. A normal sperm count is at least 15 million sperm per ml, with at least half showing good forward motility.
We also assess the morphology (shape) of your sperm, and if indicated, the sperm vitality (the percentage of immotile sperm that are alive or dead).
If we find abnormalities, we usually do more tests to identify the nature and degree of any problems, and whether it is a persistent feature or a one-off. For example, sperm have a lifecycle of 72 days, so if you are ill or stressed it can temporarily affect the quality of the sperm you produce.
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
You can read more about sperm defects here.
If you are a current patient with us, your fertility specialist will provide a request form – or you can ask your GP to refer you for a semen analysis test. Just call your nearest Queensland Fertility Group clinic to make an appointment.
Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA)
Many of our male patients will also have a Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA). 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. QFG was a pioneer of the introduction of the SCSA in Australia. There are effective treatment strategies to minimise the effect of sperm DNA damage.
How does Queensland Fertility Group treat male infertility?
Once the semen analysis is complete our experts will recommend further test or treatments based on your results. Every patient is a separate case but there are some common treatment options to improve male fertility and increase the chances of successful pregnancy:
- ICSI treatment (or IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection): ICSI treatment is an add-on to conventional IVF 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.
- Vasectomy Reversal: A vasectomy reversal is possible, but it does not guarantee that your sperm will be of sufficient quality to achieve unassisted fertilisation. We have alternatives to having a vasectomy reversal. [AB1]
- Blocked Vas Deferens: If your vas deferens was removed during a vasectomy or if it is blocked, you may need surgery, and we have relatively simple procedures for obtaining sperm in such cases. Learn more at our Fertility Surgery section or contact us for more information
For more information about male fertility issues and the treatments available, visit our Patient Information Booklets page. These booklets have been designed to help you manage any pressures associated with fertility problems as well as better inform of you about the possible causes and treatments available.
To find out more about undertaking a semen analysis, call us on 1800 111 483 or send us an email enquiry.