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Postcoital Test



A pelvic examination to collect a cervical mucus sample does not cause problems.


A postcoital test checks a woman's cervical mucus after sex to see whether sperm are present and moving normally. Results of the postcoital test may be shared with you right after the test.

Postcoital test results1
  • Normal amounts of sperm are seen in the sample.
  • Sperm are moving forward through the cervical mucus.
  • Mucus stretches a normal amount.
  • Mucus dries in a fernlike pattern.
  • Mucus does not stretch.
  • Mucus does not dry in a fernlike pattern.
  • No sperm or a large number of dead sperm are seen in the sample.
  • Sperm are clumped together and not moving normally.

What Affects the Test

A postcoital test may not be normal if you do not know the exact day of ovulation. If the test is done at another time in your cycle, the sperm cannot move through your cervical mucus.

What To Think About

  • Clumped or dead sperm may mean that the cervical mucus has problems that affect the sperm or that you or your partner has developed antibodies against the sperm (immunologic infertility). For more information, see the topic Antisperm Antibody Test.
  • If a postcoital test is abnormal, a sperm penetration test may be done. For more information, see the topic Sperm Penetration Tests.
  • Many couples find it hard to have sex "on demand," especially when an examination must be done soon after having sex.
  • For more information on infertility testing, see the topic Infertility Testing.
  • This test is not done very often because experts feel the results do not always correctly indicate infertility.

Related Information


  1. Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedOctober 22, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 22, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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