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Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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Fertility Tests for Men

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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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Infertility and Testicular Disorders

There are two primary disorders that affect the male reproductive external organs. These include penis disorders and testicular disorders. Disorders of the penis and testes can affect a man's sexual functioning and fertility. The testicles, also called testes, are part of the male reproductive system. The testicles are two oval organs about the size of large olives. They are located inside the scrotum, the loose sac of skin that hangs behind the penis. The testicles make male hormones, including...

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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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