Diagnostic Tests for Male Infertility

Diagnostic Tests for Male Infertility

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Diagnostic Tests for Male Infertility

Infertility can affect as many as 15% of couples and in half of these infertility cases, male involvement is present. To know if infertility is due to male or female partner or due to both of them can only be done after thorough investigation. There are several diagnostic tests available to diagnose male infertility. In many cases the cause of infertility may be more than one and it is important to get medical check done by both partners (male and female). Sometimes, despite thorough investigation the cause of infertility may never be identified.

Following procedures are available for diagnosing male infertility:

  • Thorough general physical examination including past medical history is the first step in diagnosis of male infertility. Examination include examining of genitals and asking of various questions regarding past medical history such as any hormonal problems, chronic health condition, any inherited disease, smoking and drinking history etc.
  • Semen analysis: semen is collected at doctor’s chamber by asking the patient to masturbate and collect semen or it can be collected using special condom during sexual intercourse and delivering the semen sample to lab as soon as possible. Semen analysis includes counting number of sperms/ml semen and also gives details about the shape and motility of sperms. Usually semen analysis has to be done more than once, because the number of sperms in semen may fluctuate.

Additional tests that your doctor may recommend to assist in diagnosis and finding the cause of male infertility include:

  • Scrotal ultrasound: this can help in finding varicocele or other abnormality present in testicles.
  • Transrectal ultrasound: this is done to find out if there is any problem in prostate or if there is any blockage in tube that carry sperm from testicles to urethra.
  • Genetic test: if sperm count is found to be very low in semen analysis, a genetic testing can help determine if there is any genetic cause such as problem in Y chromosome.
  • Hormone test: hormones produced by pituitary gland, hypothalamus and testicles are important for sperm production as well as for sexual development. Any abnormality in production of these hormones (such as testosterone) may lead to male infertility and need to be tested.
  • Pre-ejaculation urine-analysis: presence of sperm in urine if found in pre-ejaculation urine-analysis test indicates that there is retrograde ejaculation and sperms are traveling to bladder instead of being ejaculated into vagina through penis.
  • Biopsy of testicles: this test can be done for diagnosis of testicular tumor (including cancer) or rarely for finding out cause of male infertility, such as any blockage in sperm transport etc.

Sperm function test: this test is done only occasionally (because the result usually does not change treatment modality) to find out how well sperms survive after ejaculation or how effectively sperms can penetrate ovum.

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