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Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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Sperm Penetration Tests


Usually there are no problems from having a pelvic examination to collect a sample of vaginal fluid or from collecting a semen sample.


Sperm penetration tests check to see whether a man's sperm can move through cervical mucus and the fallopian tubes to join with (fertilize) an egg.

Sperm mucus penetration test

A controlled test can see if the cervical mucus is preventing sperm penetration. This test uses donor sperm and the male partner's sperm. Both sperm samples are added to a sample of the woman's cervical mucus. Donor cervical mucus may also be used with the woman's cervical mucus.

A problem with the partner's sperm may be present if:

  • The donor's sperm penetrates the mucus but the partner's sperm does not.
  • The partner's sperm does not penetrate the woman's or the donor's cervical mucus.

A problem with the woman's mucus may be present if neither the partner's or the donor's sperm do not penetrate the cervical mucus.

Sperm mucus penetration test 1

Sperm penetrate the cervical mucus and move through it easily.


Sperm cannot penetrate the cervical mucus or they clump together in the mucus. Clumping may mean that the woman or man has developed antibodies against the sperm. If the sperm antibodies are from the man's body, clumping may also be seen in his semen analysis.

Sperm penetration assay (SPA)

Results are based on the number of sperm that can penetrate an egg and can vary from lab to lab. Talk with your doctor about whether your results are normal.

Sperm penetration assay (SPA)

Sperm penetrate the hamster egg.


Sperm cannot penetrate the hamster egg.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include the following:

  • The semen sample has not been collected correctly.
  • The test is done at a time when a woman is not ovulating.

What To Think About

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: /2, 14 1
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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