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    Fertility Tests for Men

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    If you're a guy and your partner isn't getting pregnant -- even though it's something you both want -- take charge with a visit to your doctor. There are lots of tests you can take to find out if you're infertile -- and learn what kind of treatment you can get.

    Get an Evaluation

    Start out with a visit to a doctor called a urologist. He'll give you a physical exam and ask you questions about your lifestyle and medical history, such as:

    • Surgeries you've had
    • Medications you take
    • Your exercise habits
    • Whether you smoke or take recreational drugs

    He may also have a frank discussion with you about your sex life, including any problems you've had or whether you have or ever had any STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). You'll probably be asked to give a sample of semen for analysis.

    Finding out the cause of your infertility is as much an art as a science. Male infertility specialists have different ways of doing that, but here are some of the tests you can expect:

    Sperm and Semen Analysis

    A trained expert checks your sperm count, their shape, movement, and other characteristics. In general, if you have a higher number of normal-shaped sperm, it means you have higher fertility. But there are plenty of exceptions to this. A lot of guys 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, your doctor may order a second test to confirm the results. Two normal tests usually mean you don't have any significant infertility problems. If something in the results looks unusual, your doctor might order more tests to pinpoint the problem.

    If you don't have any semen or sperm at all, it might be because of a blockage in your "plumbing" that can be corrected with surgery.

    Physical Exam

    It can find varicoceles -- abnormal formations of veins above the testicle. You can get it corrected with surgery.

    Hormone Evaluation

    Testosterone and other hormones control the making of sperm. Keep in mind, though, that hormones aren't the main problem in 97% of infertile men. Experts disagree as to how big a search should be done for hormonal causes of infertility.

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