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Fertility Tests for Men

Although many people still think of infertility as a "woman's problem," in about 40% of infertile couples, the man is the sole cause or a contributing cause of the inability to conceive. One-third of infertility cases can be attributed to male problems, including low sperm count.

So it's crucial that men get tested for fertility as well as women. Yes, it can be embarrassing, but discovering male fertility problems early can mean earlier treatment and a successful pregnancy. Male infertility testing can also spare women unnecessary discomfort and expense.

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How to Choose a Fertility Clinic

Before you take the next step in your journey to become pregnant, it's worth seeking out a good fertility clinic. Let's say you've been getting advice from your gynecologist, who's run a blood test for hormones or had you record your basal body temperature for a couple of months. At the same time, your husband has had his plumbing checked out by a urologist. When it comes time to diagnose where the problem may be and suggest solutions, you may wish there were a single doctor you both could see....

Read the How to Choose a Fertility Clinic article > >

Initial Male Infertility Evaluation

A visit to a urologist should start the evaluation for male infertility. The urologist will likely begin with a basic interview and exam that includes:

In any evaluation for male infertility, the man will need to provide a sample of semen for analysis, typically at the doctor's office or nearby. It's important that the analysis take place quickly.

Male Infertility Tests

Identifying the cause of a man's infertility is as much an art as a science. Male infertility specialists differ in their approach, but here are some of the tests a man can expect:

Sperm and Semen Analysis

A trained expert assesses the man's sperm count, their shape, movement, and other variables. Generally, a higher number of normal-shaped sperm means higher fertility. But exceptions are common. Many men with low sperm counts or abnormal semen are still fertile. And about 15% of infertile men have normal semen and plenty of normal sperm.

If the first semen analysis is normal, the doctor may order a second test to confirm the results. Two normal tests are usually interpreted to mean that the man doesn't have any significant infertility problems. If something in the results looks irregular, the doctor might order further tests to pinpoint the problem.

Surprisingly, if no semen or sperm at all are present (azoospermia), this can be a good thing. It might suggest a blockage in the "plumbing" that can be corrected with surgery.

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