Approximately 1 in 6 couples have difficulty in conceiving and in almost one third of these it appears to be due to a male factor. Sperm problems can range from the complete absence of sperm, to having low numbers or simply poor quality and currently the only reliable method we have for detecting these is by a semen analysis. Semen analysis is basically the microscopic examination of the semen to see how many sperm there are and whether they function correctly. The results of all the semen analysis tests will indicate whether or not a male factor is involved and so aid decisions about appropriate treatment.
How to get an appointment
If the semen analysis is being organised and funded by the NHS, referrals have to be made through the GP or fertility specialist. The GP or specialist will provide a request form to hand in, an information leaflet, a specimen container and a bag to put them in.
The patient will then need to telephone the laboratory on:
Tel: 0115 970 9417 (8am-3.30pm Mon-Fri) to make an appointment.
However if the patient is ‘self-funding’ or ‘private’ then he may simply telephone or email the department to arrange a test.
Those who fail to keep the appointment must notify the clinic, you will not automatically receive another appointment and will need to telephone to make another.
What does the man have to do?
The man has to ejaculate into a small sterile container.
Although we recognise that this can be quite embarrassing for some, useful information can be gained from just one semen sample and quite often no further tests are required.
Specimen collection can be done at home, however for those living more than 1 hour away we recommend that it is done on site using our private facility. The results will help us decide whether or not treatment is necessary and what type of treatment will be most appropriate.
- Ensure they have booked an appointment – occasionally, the laboratory will close for training or attendance of meetings and cannot be held responsible if a patient arrives without an appointment only to find that it is closed
- Provide a complete sample. The first part of the sample contains most of the sperm so if some is lost it will affect the overall test.
- Abstain from ANY sexual activity ideally for 2-5 days before hand, but not longer than 7 days
- Be hygienic, washing their hands and genital area beforehand
- Deliver the sample in the container provided by the referring doctor
- Label the sample container clearly with full name and date of birth
- Deliver the sample within 45 minutes of its production and keep the sample close to the body whilst travelling in (as sperm are sensitive to extremes of temperature)
- Arrive with their request card
Sometimes men can feel anxious or embarrassed and this can prevent them from providing a sample. Likewise there are others who may have religious or cultural objection to masturbation. In all such cases we can provide a non-spermicidal condom for specimen collection by intercourse.