What are the different Male Fertility Tests?
If you and your partner are struggling to conceive, the next step will be to speak with your GP.
They will usually arrange for you to attend a specialist fertility clinic who will be better able to provide support, guidance and medical testing to help you on your pregnancy journey.
It’s not just women who are tested for fertility. Male partners have a huge role to play in conception and male fertility testing is just as important for your doctor to assess where the cause for your struggles might be coming from.
This also allows them to build a much more comprehensive fertility plan for you and your partner, to help you secure a successful pregnancy.
Much like women, there are a range of factors that can affect male fertility.
This can include overall health such as diet and exercise, whether you smoke or take recreational drugs, your surgical and medical history, including any sexually transmitted diseases you may have previously been diagnosed with.
Your doctor will carry out a range of tests to ascertain your fertility.
So what are some of the male fertility tests that your doctor might carry out and what do they involve?
Most male fertility tests are non-invasive and focus on your sperm, semen and hormone evaluations, but your doctor will likely carry out a variety to really get a comprehensive idea of what’s happening with your fertility:
#1 Physical Examination
First and foremost, your doctor will likely conduct a physical examination. There could be a number of physical reasons affecting your fertility, even if you are producing enough sperm and semen. One common physical cause are varicoceles – these are abnormal formations of veins around the testes.
In other cases, you may have an obstruction between your penis and your testicles which is preventing sperm from getting through. In some rarer cases, men have been found to be missing the main pipeline, the vas deferen, that connects the penis and testicles
If your fertility is found to be related a a physical reason, you can usually undergo simple surgery to correct it.
#2 Sperm and Semen Analysis
Sperm and semen analysis is one of the most important tests when it comes to male fertility. Sperm are what fertilise your partner’s egg and create a pregnancy, so making sure your sperm count is normal and productive is crucial for uncovering any underlying fertility problems.
Your doctor will request a semen analysis to check for biological and hormone related characteristics related to your fertility.
During the analysis, a fertility expert will examine your sperm for shape, movement and overall count. Generally speaking if you have higher count of normally shaped sperm, you would be expected to have higher fertility. But this might not always be the case. In some instances men with a low sperm count have been found to have no problem getting their partner pregnant, and those with a high sperm count have had the opposite problem. This type of analysis offers guidance and could be connected to a number of other variables (as mentioned before such as diet and health).
Some men may have a high count of normal sperm in their testicles, but a much lower sperm count in their semen, or the sperm is abnormal. This can account for not being able to get their partner pregnant.
During the analysis your samples will also be checked for varying hormones level which can have an impact on your fertility.
#3 Hormone Evaluation
A number of different hormones are involved in making sperm, testosterone being the main and most commonly known one. Checking for different hormonal levels in your sperm can offer insights into your overall fertility, but doctors have also advised that hormonal differences aren’t the main reason for infertility in 97% of cases. The main hormone doctors look at is testosterone – too much or too little can have a big impact on male fertility.
Hormonal testing can also uncover whether you are producing anti-sperm antibodies. This hormone actually attacks the sperm while it’s on it’s way to the egg in your partner, accounting for a much lower chance of fertility.
#4 Genetic Testing
Genetic testing is an interesting one and is normally only carried out if your doctor uncovers another factor that they believe is impacting on your fertility. This includes if you have a very low sperm count, a lack of sperm was found in your semen, or if your doctor has found a physical problem that may be linked to your infertility.
It also recommended as a fertility test for couples who may have experienced a number of miscarriages to try and uncover any genetic dispositions that may be preventing the baby from being carried to term.
Genetic testing is very non-invasive and involves a simple blood test so that your DNA can be examined. Through a blood sample, doctors can check your DNA make-up and identify any anomalies that could be related to infertility.
What happens next?
A fertility specialist will request a number of tests for both partners to check your overall fertility. The results of these tests can offer further insights and instruct your doctor on what the next steps for you as a couple might be.
These tests are designed to source where the problem might be, so your doctor can put you on a plan towards a successful pregnancy.