Male Infertility - Your Questions Answered

From the causes of male fertility issues, to the likelihood of successful treatment, our patient services team answers some of the most common questions around male fertility.

Often when a couple has been trying for a baby for some time, without success, male fertility issues can often initially be overlooked. At RHG we recognise that around one in seven couples have difficulty getting pregnant, and male infertility is the cause in approximately a third of cases. That means that around one man in twelve has some kind of fertility problem that requires investigation.

What are the main causes of male infertility?

Quantity & quality of sperm – One of the main reasons for male infertility is not producing enough healthy sperm. If the sperm count is too low, which is defined as having less than 15 million sperm / millilitre of semen, there may not be enough sperm to fertilise an egg.

Equally the quality of the sperm can have a major impact on your chances of a successful pregnancy, with sperm motility being a major factory. Sperm motility is the movement of the sperm. Sperm need to be able to move efficiently in order to reach and fertilise an egg in the female partner’s reproductive tract. Poor sperm motility can be a cause of male factor infertility.

Another impacting factor is the genetics of the sperm itself. The integrity of genetic material in the sperm is crucial for successful fertilisation and normal embryo development. A conventional semen analysis alone can check for sperm concentration, motility and morphology, but cannot assess the sperm at the molecular level and as result aid the detection of DNA fragmentation. For this reason, at RHG we also provide a Sperm DNA Fragmentation Test in addition to our semen analysis.

What other causes are there for male infertility?

  • Testicular damage
  • Ejaculation disorders
  • Lifestyle Choices

When should I have sperm analysis?

Often, you won’t even notice any obvious symptoms of male infertility. The first sign of a possible infertility problem is usually when your partner fails to become pregnant after an extended period of unprotected sex.

At this stage, our fertility assessments can help you learn more about why you may be struggling and can explain yours or your partner’s fertility situation. We offer affordable fertility investigations for men, women and couples to help you assess your chances of naturally conceiving and provide reassurance, relief and confidence for people who are unaware if they have fertility problems.

There are other situations during which a sperm analysis may be required though, which include before or after a surgical procedure involving the reproductive system or when considering preserving male fertility for the future through sperm freezing.

How do I make an appointment for semen analysis?

You can contact us directly to make an appointment – online here, by telephone on 01925 202180 or by email at contact@reproductivehealthgroup.co.uk

Do I need a referral letter from my GP or referring doctor?

No you can self refer for a semen analysis or for other male fertility tests, a referral is not necessary.

How do I prepare for the sperm analysis test?

To prepare for the insemination procedure, it is important to have any relevant medical information ready to provide.

As well as this, you should aim to abstain from sexual activity for three to five days, to ensure the optimum concentration of sperm.

What is the best time for a sperm test?

After 2 days of abstinence and when you are in good health, not suffering from any illnesses. Semen analyses are not affected by the time of day they are undertaken.

What happens at a male fertility assessment?

The first part of any male fertility assessment is to look at your lifestyle. Factors such as your age, weight and diet can all impact your ability to conceive, and we’ll provide tailored advice based on your results to prevent this from developing into a serious issue.

What tests are performed in the ‘Male Fertility Test’ package?

Our ‘Male Fertility Assessment’ includes a semen analysis, also referred to as a sperm count test, which looks into the quality of your sperm. It includes the number, shape and movement of the cells and a follow up consultation with one of our fertility specialists to discuss the findings.

Can I produce a sperm sample at home?

Yes it is possible to produce the sample at home but it then needs to reach the laboratory within 60 minutes of production.

What are the sperm quality standards?

The latest sperm quality standards from the World Health Organization (WHO) are as follows:

WHO standards from 2010

  • Ejaculate volume: ≥ 1.5 mL pH: 7.0 – 8.0
  • Sperm count: ≥ 15 million / mL
  • Sperm count in ejaculate ≥ 39 million / mL
  • Percentage of sperm with normal mobility: ≥ 32% with progressive mobility
  • Morphology (structure): ≥ 4% sperm in the correct shape
  • Viability:> 58% sperm
  • Leukocytes in semen: <1 million / mL
  • Agglutination test (MAR, IBT): <50% sperm

How accurate is a sperm test?

The test will be an accurate representation of the sperm on the day the test is done, however results can fluctuate according to factors such as illness or stress.

How can I boost my fertility naturally?

Sperm count is affected by lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking and drinking, stress and illness. Men should aim to have a healthy diet and cut down on smoking, drinking, avoid drugs and reduce stress to optimise their sperm count – lifestyle & fertility go hand in hand. Where possible, men should also try to avoid heat – if your scrotum (which contains your testicles) is too warm, this may reduce sperm quality. Several things can cause this. Examples include working in hot conditions, driving for extended periods, using laptops and having hot baths or saunas.

In addition to lifestyle, timing can also be key. Having sex every two to three days will maximise the chance of pregnancy by making sure you’re having sex during your partner’s most fertile time of the month.

What are common treatments for low sperm count?

Treatment for low sperm count, like most fertility problems, will depend largely on the individual. Sperm abnormalities can occur for a variety of reasons, which can range from previous medical treatment to simply lifestyle choices, as already discussed.

Should a specific problem be diagnosed through the initial fertility assessments, the following treatments may be suggested:

Medicines – these can be used to boost testosterone levels (hypogonadism) to increase the amount of sperm produced. In cases where sperm are ejaculated backwards (retrograde ejaculation), medication can also be provided to prevent this from occurring.

Surgery – In some cases there the sperm count can show no measurable sperm in the semen, which is called Azoospermia, which can be caused by a blockage along the reproductive tract or hormonal problems. This can often be very treatable and fertility can be restored.

Assisted fertility – In cases where fertility can’t be easily restored, we may turn to Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR) to retrieve the sperm for assisted conception through ICSI with the remaining sperm being frozen for future use.

How do I book a male fertility assessment?

If you would like to organise a fertility assessment or semen analysis, please contact our team on 01925 202 180 or contact us online to speak to a specialist who will explain the process in more detail.