Fertility testing & diagnosis for men at a glance
- Men experiencing infertility, defined as the inability to get a woman pregnant after more than one year of actively trying, usually do not show any symptoms, so testing is required to diagnose the cause of infertility.
- Male infertility plays a role in about 40 percent of all infertility cases, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
- Fertility tests for men usually include a medical exam and a semen analysis to determine the sperm count and sperm movement.
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What is fertility testing & diagnosis for men?
Infertility is commonly diagnosed if a couple is unable to become pregnant after a year or more of having unprotected intercourse on a regular basis. Male infertility is the sole cause in about 20 percent of infertility cases and is one of the factors in another 20 percent of infertility cases, according to ASRM.
Male fertility testing focuses on the leading causes of male infertility, which are abnormalities in a man’s sperm or his sperm delivery (reproductive) system. Semen analysis looks for issues with the semen itself, as well as abnormalities or damage in a man’s sperm cells. Damaged sperm is the most common cause of male infertility.
Other factors that can affect male fertility include:
- Chromosomal or genetic disorders that affect sperm production or sperm delivery.
- Retrograde or “dry ejaculation” that prevents semen from ejaculating normally.
- Obstruction in a man’s reproductive tract blocking sperm from leaving the penis during ejaculation, such as vasectomy or naturally occurring blockage in the reproductive tubes.
- Psychological, emotional or spinal conditions causing impotence, which is the inability to sustain intercourse through climax.
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation that disrupt sperm production and viability.
When should fertility testing for men be considered?
If a couple does not get pregnant after a year of trying (or after six months of trying when the female partner is older than 35), both the man and woman should seek fertility testing.
A man should consider having fertility testing earlier if he has a prior medical condition or history that may cause infertility, including:
- Testicular damage.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Prior cancer treatment.
- Prior mumps infection.
- Prior urinary tract surgery.
Fertility tests for men
The following tests for male fertility are performed in the comfort and convenience of our offices:
Medical history assessment
The doctor will explain causes of male infertility such as accidents, illnesses, surgeries or existing conditions, and discuss anything that may have occurred in the man’s medical history to cause infertility. The doctor will also address other topics such as lifestyle factors, including obesity.
A semen analysis will show the amount of semen the man produces as well as the sperm shape (morphology), quantity and quality of movement (motility). In certain cases, more than one semen analysis is conducted because sperm levels can fluctuate between tests. Men should plan on giving samples at two doctor visits at least two weeks apart due to expected differences in semen at different times.
If the sperm concentration is very low in a semen analysis, it may indicate a genetic cause for infertility. This can be confirmed through genetic testing on the sperm samples.
Hormone levels blood test
Male hormones, including testosterone, are vital for sperm production and sexual development, so a blood test is commonly conducted to examine hormone levels.
An ultrasound of the man’s scrotum tests for testicle obstruction. A transrectal ultrasound closely looks at the vesicles and ejaculatory ducts that transfer semen.
Post ejaculatory urinalysis
This analysis tests for the presence of sperm in a man’s urine, indicating retrograde ejaculation.