When Is It Time for a Sperm Test?
Jul 27, 2022 | Kacie Shrock, RN, BSN
Sperm cells carry male genetic material and are what fertilizes an egg following intercourse, but in order to get pregnant, you only need one healthy sperm!
If you’re navigating difficulties in conceiving, you might be wondering if you and your partner should consider further testing which will likely begin with a semen analysis. Infertility and difficulties trying to conceive are not just related to the female, the male is actually a contributing factor in about 30-40% of all infertility cases.
By having a semen analysis and reviewing medical history with your physician, you may be able to identify a root cause and in many cases improve quality through lifestyle changes that we’ll cover later in this blog.
What is a Sperm Test?
Seminal fluid, referred to as semen, is the fluid ejaculated by the male reproductive tract following an orgasm that contains millions of sperm cells.
A semen analysis, also known as a sperm test, is a non-invasive fertility lab test used to analyze the health and viability of a man’s sperm and provides an overall snapshot of male fertility. This lab test can be ordered by your primary care physician, OBGYN, a fertility specialist, or a urologist.
A sperm test looks at 3 primary factors:
- Sperm count - The total amount of sperm per ejaculate, counted by the millions!
- Motility - The percentage of sperm that are mobile and immobile. This can identify the amount of sperm that are moving in a forward direction, which is what you want!
- Morphology - The shapes of the sperm. Yes, it’s possible for some sperm to have two heads or two tails!
Who Needs a Semen Analysis?
Male Fertility: If a couple has been trying to conceive with no success, sperm may be an issue and a semen analysis can be requested from your doctor.
Vasectomy Follow-up: A semen analysis will determine if a vasectomy was successful and typically ordered after this procedure to ensure it worked.
When Is It Time for A Sperm Analysis?
As it is with most fertility testing, doctors recommend seeking a fertility clinic for couples with the following:
- If you are under the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive for one year with no success.
- If you are over the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive for 6 months with no success.
- If you are over the age of 40, you can start with fertility testing.
These are the recommendations of most reproductive and fertility physicians, however if you have any reason to believe that sperm may be an issue, you can always request testing directly from your doctor.
Is a Semen Analysis Necessary?
According to the CDC, a recent statistic shows that in the United States, among heterosexual women aged 15-49 with no prior births, about 1 in 5 (19%) are unable to conceive after one year of trying (infertility).
The short answer here, yes, a semen analysis may be necessary. Sperm production and male fertility can be impacted from lifestyle factors such as diet, alcohol & tobacco, trauma, surgery, genetics and even some medical conditions. Men make new sperm about every 2-3 months, so if your semen analysis comes back lower than average, there may be room for improvement depending on the cause.
My recommendations as a fertility nurse are to try and make little lifestyle changes here and there that will naturally improve your fertility before trying to conceive. Talk to your doctor about your medical history and discuss which vitamins are right for both you and your partner. Incorporate more whole foods into your diet such as fruits, veggies, lean meats, and healthy fats. Start to slow down on the alcohol or tobacco intake and increase your water intake. Move your body and aim to exercise 3-4 times per week, even if it is just walking your dog around the neighborhood.
If you are unsure if your partner should get a semen analysis or if you have further questions, you can book a virtual consultation with any of our Premom providers right in the Premom app!
About the Author
Nurse Kacie is a registered nurse who specializes in fertility and reproductive health. She has always had a passion for women's health and she supports women and couples virtually across the world while on their journey to their dream families!