A male’s guide to fertility: Why is it essential to get a semen analysis?
Getting pregnant is the most natural thing for a woman, but with the increasing cases of infertility in couples, specialists might think otherwise. While a majority of pregnancy failure cases report sperm anomalies being the sole or contributing factor, semen analysis may be initiated sooner in patients who have risk factors for infertility.
“A normal sperm count goes anywhere between 15 million sperm to more than 200 million sperm per millilitre (mL) of semen. Anything less than 15 million sperm per millilitre, or 39 million sperm per ejaculate, is considered low,” says Dr Gautam Allahbadia Mumbai. As a fertility specialist who opened one of the first sperm banks in India, he believes that male infertility diagnosis and treatment has improved considerably, but the need for further awareness still remains.
As for sperm evaluation, the doctor informs that in case of low sperm count, the semen analysis measures three major factors of sperm health such as the number of sperm, their motility (ability to move), their morphology (size and shape), the volume, and consistency of the patient material.
How is semen evaluation done?
Quite commonly, a semen analysis is done when a male patient masturbates and ejaculates into a sterile cup. A healthy sperm count isn’t only necessary when you’re trying to conceive naturally or through IVF; it also measures the patient’s overall health and the possible causes of infertility.
Improving your sperm count
If the sperm count is low post evaluation, medical intervention might be needed. In such cases, a fertility expert or a urologist can be your go-to specialist. However, changes in lifestyle might also factor in, such as:
- Losing extra weight and adopting a healthy lifestyle
- Vitamin intake and other supplements might also help. Before this, go for a routine blood test to check for vitamin deficiencies.
- Heavy drinking and tobacco use can also be the substantiating factor behind a low sperm count.
Low Sperm count and IVF
Sub-optimal sperm production is a condition in which a man fails to produce a sufficient quantity of sperms. In such cases, a male with low sperm count can opt for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI — in which the sperm can be directly injected in the egg), intrauterine insemination (IUI)/ artificial insemination or IVF.
“Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, is a more targeted method of IVF aimed at helping men who have fertility problems, such as low sperm count or poor sperm mobility. This procedure covers extracting a spermatozoon from a sample of semen or by a testicular biopsy to select the most appropriate sperm,” explains another fertility expert at CHA Fertility Centre.
Infertility is based on several factors; therefore, undergoing timely fertility tests can be a determining step. If male factor infertility is the issue, assisted pregnancy is a worthy option couples should consider.