One of the many things that we like to think sets our clinic apart from the rest is our particular focus on male as well as female fertility. You might expect this to be a given, but lots of couples tell us that the emphasis of the assessments they have received elsewhere is often on the woman's fertility, whilst her partner's contribution is largely neglected. An early diagnosis of a male problem is essential.
We see far too many couples spending months or even years investigating female infertility while their biological clock ticks away, only to find that the problem lies with their partner (which, given that c 40%+ of cases of sub-fertility are now thought to be attributable to male factors, is hardly surprising).
Undoubtedly, the whole area of male fertility has been revolutionised by ICSI, but there are many situations where, provided the woman's age allows it, intermediate steps may be appropriate to properly identify whether male factor issues may be the problem and, if so, whether it may be possible to improve your partner's sperm health sufficiently to give you a chance of conceiving naturally.
There are lots more tests that may be important to properly assess your partner's fertility than just the standard semen test. We see so many couples who have had a semen analysis done via their GP, which doesn't seem to show anything to worry about, but too often these tests can be quite basic and the results given to you without much explanation. In our view, if you have been trying to conceive for some time, and their are no obvious physical reasons to explain why you haven't, it can often be important to conduct tests on the male partner that look for a whole variety of things, and not just the count, motility (movement) and morphology (shape) of his sperm. By focussing just on these parameters, you can easily miss important clues about your true fertility status and, as a result, you may not get a realistic picture of your situation.
Semen analysis varies enormously up and down the country depending on the guidelines used to perform the test and how the results are interpreted. Some laboratories look at only a handful of parameters, while others give a much more detailed analysis for a more accurate picture of your fertility.
To get a complete picture of semen quality the test should, ideally, include information about all of the factors listed on the right hand side of this page (click on each for details).
Additional testing may also be recommended, depending on your circumstances. If your sperm count is very low, for example, a hormone profile and genetic testing may be suggested (click on "hormone profile" and "genetic testing" from the menu on the right hand side of the page for more details). Testing for oxidative stress can also be helpful (click on "oxidative stress") as can screening for previously undetected sexual infections, all of which are associated with infertility and miscarriage.
Being able to identify poor quality sperm as the cause, or as a contributory cause, for your problems can be extremely valuable, not only because it makes the decision making process so much easier in terms of what to do next, but also because many of the likely contributory factors (such as alcohol, drugs, caffeine, cigarettes, stress, or poor diet) can often be addressed.
Assessments can be arranged individually or as part of a package of investigations for both partners.