Understanding the Spermogram Test for Male Fertility
The journey towards parenthood is a shared responsibility, and contrary to common misconceptions, the health of both partners plays an equally significant role. In fact, research reveals that male infertility accounts for 50% of all infertility cases. This highlights the importance of men's health in the conception process. One of the most effective and straightforward diagnostic tools for assessing male fertility is the spermogram test.
A spermogram test is a comprehensive laboratory analysis of a man's ejaculate. This test is designed to evaluate the quality of sperm and the overall male fertilization function. The ejaculate, a fluid released during ejaculation, comprises sperm (the motile cells) and semen. The spermogram test scrutinizes the number, quality, motility, and type of spermatozoa, along with any pathological and genetic mutations. It also assesses the overall semen count, viscosity, color, and the proportion of healthy sperm in the semen.
Who Should Consider a Spermogram Test?
The spermogram test is crucial for couples planning a pregnancy. If a couple has been unsuccessful in conceiving within a year, a spermogram test is highly recommended. Men over the age of 30 are advised to undergo this test annually as a preventive measure to monitor their health. The test is also essential when considering assisted reproductive technologies for fertilization or for sperm donation. Moreover, a spermogram test can help diagnose various conditions such as prostatitis, varicocele, or hormonal disruptions.
Preparing for a Spermogram Test
To ensure the effectiveness of the test and the reliability of the results, men must adequately prepare for the spermogram test. While some physicians may prescribe individualized preparation recommendations, there are general rules to follow:
- Abstain from intercourse for 5 days before the test to increase sperm count. However, the abstinence period should not exceed 7 days.
- Avoid fatty, spicy, and junk food for 7 days before the test. Alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes should also be excluded during this period.
- Reduce physical activity. Refrain from visiting the gym, sauna, and steam bath. Hot baths should also be avoided.
- Get treatment for all infectious diseases that are causing fever and inflammation.
- If possible, stop taking medications 24 hours before the test. This includes antibiotics, antidepressants, psychotropic drugs, narcotic analgesics, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Eliminate stress factors and psycho-emotional arousal as they can disrupt the hormonal balance and consequently affect the state of the sperm.
These guidelines are designed to ensure the most accurate results. It's important to remember that the spermogram test is a snapshot of a man's fertility at a specific point in time.
Collecting the Sample
Sperm is a sensitive material that is susceptible to external conditions. Prolonged storage can decrease the quality and vitality of the sperm. Therefore, the sample should only be collected by appointment and in laboratory conditions, from where it will immediately go for research.
The sample is collected through masturbation in a special room where appropriate conditions are created. The man is given a special sterile vessel in which he collects the sample. It is crucial to collect all the ejaculate in the container as different sperm portions may have different sperm counts, and the loss of a part can lead to inaccurate analysis. The result can be obtained within a day.
For the most accurate results, it is recommended to take a spermogram test twice within 2 weeks. If the results differ, a third test may be required. This ensures a comprehensive understanding of a man's fertility status.
Understanding Normal Sperm Counts
By following all the rules for the preparation and submission of a spermogram, the expected results should resemble this:
- The volume of the material is 3-6 ml.
- Color – white-gray, with a yellow tint
- pH 7.2-.76
- Viscosity – 6.0-6.6
- Agglutination – absent
- Ejaculate dilution – from 10 to 40 minutes
- Sperm count – more than 20 million in 1 ml.
- Time for ejaculate to dilute – from 10 to 40 minutes
- Sperm count – over 20 million per ml
- Percentage of living sperm – 90 to 95%
- Active sperm – in excess of 60%
- Slightly moving sperm – 10 to 20%
- Pathologically changed sperm – not exceeding 20%
- Erythrocytes present – 0 to 2 in the field of view
- Leukocytes – 3 to 5 in the field of view
Additionally, the laboratory assistant conducts a MAR test, which determines the presence of antisperm antibodies for the diagnosis of immunological infertility. Normally, antibodies should not be present. These parameters provide a comprehensive view of a man's fertility status.
How to Improve Sperm Results
Several factors can affect the quality of sperm. Some of these factors include genetic diseases and pathologies, toxic effects from alcohol, medications, radiation, cigarettes, drugs, and chemicals, harmful effects of compounds of lead, mercury, and other heavy metals, frequent infectious and inflammatory diseases of the genitourinary system (prostatitis, vesiculitis), varicocele – enlargement of the veins of the testicles, disorders in hormonal balance, blockage of the vas deferens due to injury or other reasons, unhealthy lifestyle, and excess body weight.
While some of these factors cannot be fixed, such as genetic ones, there are ways to improve the results of the spermogram and increase the chances of conception. This includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, avoiding harmful substances, and regularly visiting a doctor for check-ups. By making these changes, men can improve their sperm quality and increase their chances of successful conception.
Spermogram Test Cost
The cost of a spermogram test can vary depending on the location and the laboratory. However, it is generally affordable and considered a worthwhile investment for couples planning a pregnancy or for men who want to monitor their health. It is always best to consult with your healthcare provider or a fertility specialist for the most accurate information regarding the cost.
In conclusion, the spermogram test is an essential tool in the journey towards parenthood. It provides valuable insights into male fertility and can help identify potential issues that may be hindering conception. By understanding what a spermogram test is and how it works, men can take proactive steps towards ensuring their reproductive health and ultimately, their journey towards parenthood.