Producing a Semen Sample for Semen Analysis

Procedure

Once the patient has registered their details with the fertility clinic, then a package is sent to them in the post containing:

  1. Instructions
  2. Sample production details and a brief patient history questionnaire - form
  3. Sterile sample pot (Not to be opened until sample production)
  4. Biohazard bag

Note: To ensure privacy and discretion, all post materials are sent in nondescript brown envelopes. Outer packaging does not contain any company logos. C5 envelopes containing sample pots are approximately 5cm in diameter weighing approximately 40g. It is your responsibility to ensure this envelope can be received through your letterbox without damage.

  • A sexual abstinence period of not more than 5 days or less than 2 days is recommended before producing a semen sample for analysis. If more than 5 days have passed since the patient has ejaculated, then sperm are likely to be older and slower. If a patient has ejaculated in less than 2 days then semen volume and sperm numbers can be lower.
  • Wash hands and the genital area thoroughly before the production of a semen sample for analysis. This reduces the likelihood of skin cells or clothing fabric in the semen sample.
  • Do not use lubricants, latex condoms, powders or perfumes that are likely to be toxic to sperm, during sample production.
  • Special non-toxic condoms are available commercially. These can be used to collect a sample for analysis during intercourse. Care must be taken in following manufacturers instructions, especially when closing the condom and transporting the sample to the laboratory.
  • Ensure the sample is produced into a correctly labeled sample pot i.e. the name and address are correct. Do not open the sterile sample pot until ready to produce a semen sample.
  • Following sample production the sample pot must be closed TIGHTLY and the sample pot must be kept WARM during transport to the laboratory.
  • Place the sample pot in a biohazard bag and keep either next to the skin or in a warm pocket during transport to the laboratory.
  • Ideally the sample should be kept between 20→37degrees (body temperature). Too much cold or heat will kill the sperm.
  • The form explaining sample production details should be filled out. It will quickly outline the patient’s sexual abstinence (in Days), the time the sample was produced and whether the sample collected was complete i.e. all the semen fluid fractions were collected in the pot.
  • A brief patient history questionnaire is also contained on this form and should be completed and returned, for a more accurate assessment of the patient’s results.
  • This form and the tightly sealed sample pot in the biohazard bag, should be delivered to the clinic ideally within 1 hour of production. This is the optimal time frame within which to test the sample.
  • Normal samples can still be analyzed up to 3 hours following sample production, but there could be a loss of ∼20% motility.

In Summary

  • Register online with the fertility clinic
  • Abstain from sex 2→5 days before sample production
  • Wash hands & genitals thoroughly before sample production
  • Do not use latex condoms or other sperm-toxic substances
  • Check the sample pot is labeled correctly with your personal details
  • Once the sample is produced, close the pot lid tightly
  • Keep the pot warm between 20→37degrees (Close to your skin)
  • Fill out the sample production details and patient history questionnaire form
  • Deliver this form and the sample in the biohazard bag, to the laboratory ideally within 1 hour of production
Results and Repeat Testing

Should any of the sperm parameters being tested not meet WHO (World Health Organisation) guideline threshold levels outlined below, then a repeat semen analysis should be considered. Some parameters are more important than others in relation to fertility potential. A ‘Remarks’ section will be included in all semen analysis reports, which will summarize the significance of the test results, and recommend whether another semen analysis is needed.

The quality of semen samples can vary between ejaculates. Results will be affected by factors such as:

  • Period of sexual abstinence
  • Level of stimulation
  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Or whether the semen sample is complete i.e the whole semen sample was captured in the sample pot

One negative result will always have to be confirmed by a second test due to the potential for variance between samples.

Note: Should a patient provide the fertility clinic with either an incomplete sample for testing or compromised sample for testing (e.g. prolonged time interval since sample production, over exposure of sperm to hot/cold, or use of spermatotoxic substances in sample production), then the fertility clinic cannot be held responsible if an accurate test cannot be carried out.

WHO guideline lower reference threshold for semen characteristics
  • Semen volume: 1.5ml
  • Total sperm number: 39 million per ejaculate
  • Sperm concentration: 15 million per ml
  • Total motility: 40%
  • Progressive motility: 32%
  • Sperm morphology: 4% normal forms
  • pH: 7.2
  • MAR test: 50% motile sperm with bound particles

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