Who should get a semen analysis? Whether you’re thinking about starting a family, having difficulty getting pregnant, working to improve your fertility outlook, freezing sperm prior to cancer or another treatment, or maybe just curious – a semen analysis is the best way to establish your baseline and learn about your fertility.
Of the 1 in 8 couples that struggle to have a baby, at least 50% of the time there is a sperm issue (aka male factor) involved. A semen analysis is used to identify abnormalities in sperm that may impact your ability to conceive. If you have an abnormal semen analysis, a male fertility specialist will evaluate your history and do a physical exam and labs to identify contributing factors that can be addressed and treated to improve and optimize sperm production. In up to 10% of men, an abnormal semen analysis is the initial presentation of an underlying medical problem – you don’t want to miss that!
It all starts with a semen analysis, so here we go: How to do a semen analysis in 5 easy steps…
1) Acknowledge the awkward
Yea, we know, it’s not your ideal scenario. Many individuals feel awkward, uneasy, or embarrassed about the idea of providing a semen sample. Sometimes this stress even affects your ability to produce a sample on demand. You are most certainly not alone. Today, there are options – you can produce a sample in the office or you can complete an at-home test. For those that provide a sample in the office, rest assured that the medical team is busy treating patients and not fazed by masturbation. Don’t worry, the staff doesn’t think twice about what you’re doing in the collection room.
If masturbating in an office collection room or bathroom is not for you, consider an at-home semen analysis kit. Just make sure the kit you choose has met rigorous research and scientific standards to be processed at a CLIA-certified lab. CLIA-certified means legit – federally regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Posterity Health has partnered with Fellow, the only mail-in test company that operates its own CLIA-certified lab (CLIA Number: 05D2177822).
2) Plan your ejaculation
Now, this part is very important. You want to get the most out of this test so let’s make sure it’s done right, and the results can be interpreted appropriately instead of having to repeat it. You should avoid ejaculation (sex, masturbation, or whatever else you are into) for 2-5 days before giving your sample. Why you ask? Great question! If you have ejaculated in the last 24 hours, you will have less sperm in the sample for analysis. If it has been more than 5 days you may have more sperm, but they will be old, non-moving, and not representative of your true fertility. You want the most accurate results, and so does your doctor, so open your calendar app and set a reminder 3 days before your semen analysis “Last day to masturbate” or something more discreet – up to you!
3) Know the logistics
There are many options for collecting a sample:
- In office: The sample goes right to the lab for processing. But, keep in mind, you could be doing the deed in a dedicated collection room, or a hospital or clinic bathroom.
- At home, delivered to the local lab: Remember time is sperm, keep that sample at body temp (yes, tucked in your waistband is a common approach) and get it to the lab within 30 minutes – 1 hour.
- At-home kit, mailed to a lab: Follow the instructions carefully, and remember when you get the results back from the company to send them to your doctor. *Not all at-home testing kits are the same. Posterity Health recommends the Fellow kit because of the CLIA-certified lab, and it provides the same results as what you’d receive at a fertility clinic or your doctor’s office.
- Most samples are collected as we result of masturbation. If this is not an option for you, your local lab or Fellow can provide a sterile condom for collection during sex.
4) Bring your own *inspiration*
Not gonna lie, oftentimes the selection of reading materials at the clinic is pretty lackluster and just may not be what you’re into. Bring your imagination, or bring your phone, tablet, etc. (and headphones if you prefer) and have some entertainment picked out that does the trick. Another option is to bring a sex toy or vibrator.
5) Collect your sample
Ok, now to the task at hand (see what we did there…)
You did it! You took the first step to learn about your fertility and now you are empowered to take action. Posterity Health is here for you every step of the way.
– Thinking about starting a family?
Baseline Assessment: semen analysis and results interpretation
– Received abnormal semen analysis results?
Comprehensive Evaluation: workup and treatment plan with integrated couples care
We’re here for you, and male fertility is all we do.