When a couple is having trouble having a baby, there is a 50% chance that the man has a problem that contributes to this infertility.
The problems that the man could present would be:
• Production of very few sperm to fertilize the egg
• Production of sperm that do not have a proper shape or that do not move normally
• Obstruction in the reproductive system that prevents the release of sperm.
If you are having a fertility problem, the doctor will ask about your background and do a complete physical examination, as well as several tests to find out the cause of the infertility. Semen analysis (spermiogram or spermatogram) is probably the first test your doctor will request. Semen is the fluid that is released when a man has an orgasm, this fluid transports sperm and serves as protection so it can enter the uterus safely. Normally you will be asked for a sample of semen obtained by masturbation, in a sterilized bottle. If masturbation is not culturally acceptable, the doctor can provide a special condom to collect the semen during intercourse.
The spermiogram provides a lot of information about the quantity and quality of semen and the sperm it contains. Some of the things that are measured are:
• How much semen is produced (volume)
• The total number of sperm in the semen sample (total count)
• The amount of sperm in each milliliter of semen (concentration)
• The percentage of sperm that are in motion (motility)
• The percentage of sperm that have or not the correct form (morphology)
The test can also suggest if you have an infection of the reproductive system.
The semen sample must be examined within one hour after it is obtained, it is usually examined in the doctor’s office. You will probably need to make two visits to provide the samples on two different days more than two weeks apart, because samples from the same individual may be different at different times. Gathering two samples makes it easier to know if something is wrong. You may be asked not to release sperm (ejaculation) between 2 and 5 days before providing a sample.
Hormone levels and reproduction
There are important chemicals in the body, called hormones, that control the production of sperm. They also influence their interest in sex and their ability to have sex. Having too many or too few of these hormones in the body can cause problems with sperm production or sexual intercourse.
Two hormones important for reproduction are follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and testosterone (T). The doctor can do blood tests to check if you have the right amount of these hormones. When indicated, the doctor can evaluate the levels of other hormones, including luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol, prolactin, and thyroid. Other tests (which may not be necessary in most men)
You should contact your doctor for more information, and have a regular check-up to avoid further complications.