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Fertility Tests for Men


Anti-Sperm Antibodies

Some men make abnormal antibodies against their own sperm. The antibodies attack the sperm on the way to the egg, preventing fertilization.

In other men, making sperm isn't the problem; it's getting the sperm where they need to go. Men with these conditions have normal sperm in their testicles. The sperm in semen, though, are missing, very low, or abnormal. There are several reasons for low sperm in semen when a man is making enough sperm:

  • Retrograde ejaculation. In this condition, sperm ejaculate backwards, into the bladder. Usually retrograde ejaculation is caused by a previous surgery.
  • Absence of the main sperm pipeline (the vas deferens ). A genetic problem, some men are born without a main pipeline for sperm.
  • Obstruction anywhere between the testicles and the penis.
  • Anti-sperm antibodies, abnormally attacking a man's own sperm on their way to the egg.

Varicoceles are the most common cause of correctable male infertility -- up to 38% of cases. These abnormal formations of veins above the testicle can be fixed with surgery.

Up to 25% of infertile men have abnormal or low sperm counts causing their infertility, for no identifiable reason. This is called idiopathic infertility.

Through thorough testing of both the man and the woman, 85% of couples can discover the cause of their infertility. Many couples will become pregnant after the first year, with continued attempts and treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on July 22, 2012
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