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Postcoital Test

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How It Is Done

A postcoital test is done in your doctor's office.

You will take off your clothes below the waist. You will have a gown to drape around your waist. You will then lie on your back on an examination table with your feet raised and supported by stirrups. This is similar to having a pelvic examination or Pap test.

Your doctor will insert a lubricated tool called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum gently spreads apart the vaginal walls, allowing your doctor to see the inside of the vagina and the cervix. See a picture of the vaginal speculum examinationcamera.gif.

How It Feels

You may feel some discomfort when the speculum is put in.

Risks

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

Results

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:
  • 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.
Abnormal:
  • 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.

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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