Forty percent of the patient's Dr. Jacobs treats are men. Male infertility problems are quite common and are the result of hormone imbalances, infections, injuries, varicocele, and vein blockage in the testicles.
When a couple is unable to conceive, the problem may be due to a malfunction of the female reproductive system or the male reproductive system, or a combination of both. Even if a woman has a known condition, it is still important to check her partner for contributing sources of infertility. To screen for male infertility problems, we perform a semen analysis at our Chicago area practice. If the results indicate that problems are present, additional tests may be necessary to pinpoint the condition and determine the course of treatment.
The first test in the assessment of male infertility is the semen analysis. This relatively simple screening procedure can provide a wealth of information about the health and function of the male reproductive system and the fertilization potential of sperm.
To schedule an appointment for a semen analysis, please follow these steps:
The semen analysis is conducted by first collecting a semen sample. A sterile, labeled container will be provided by our lab for this purpose. To ensure accurate results, the sample must be delivered to our lab within one to two hours of being produced and kept close to room temperature during transport. Once received, the sample will be examined for volume, consistency, pH, and the presence of fructose (a sugar that sustains the sperm). The sperm will be analyzed for concentration (count), motility (movement), and morphology (shape).
Because there are many factors that may temporarily affect sperm production, a single semen analysis is often not sufficient to provide the information we need to diagnose male infertility, unless it is perfectly normal. Occasionally two semen analyses may need to be scheduled, with at least one month between them. If the results are inconclusive or abnormal, additional analyses or tests may be scheduled. Hormone blood test from testosterone, thyroid and prolactin may be helpful.
Pending the semen analysis results, a referral to a urologist or a male fertility specialist (Andrologist) may be recommended.
As part of the semen analysis at FCI, we routinely do a sperm function test in order to assess the man's ability to fertilize an egg. The "strict morphology" of the sperm predicts a man's fertility potential (fertilizing capacity) even in cases where the sperm count, motility and/or regular morphology of the sperm analysis are normal. The strict morphology takes a critical look at many individual sperm according to a very strict set of criteria. Only specialized andrology laboratories have trained technicians who can analyze the sperm according to these strict criteria. The sperm are stained and examined under oil at 1000X power for normal size and shape of the head, mid piece, tail, and for any other abnormalities. Even a minor defect in any category rates the sperm as abnormal. Therefore, relatively few sperm are rated as "normal" or perfect (near-perfect) during the strict morphology test, as compared to the "estimated crude morphology" done during a regular semen analysis (WHO criteria).
The strict morphology score is a result that indicates and predicts the sperm's potential for fertilization:
To learn more about factors that contribute to male infertility and understand what options are available to you, contact Dr. Jacobs today.