All you need to know about... collecting sperm
So, you’re a guy and you’ve just found out you and your partner may need fertility treatment. There’s a lot of articles that focus on the female journey, the process of producing and collecting eggs. But, it takes two to tango and there is not as much on the process of producing and collecting sperm. Often, it’s the elephant in the room- so we sat down with Genea Andrology Manager Linda Cooper and asked her all the awkward questions patients want to know the answers to but sometimes don’t have the confidence to ask. Hope it helps.
What is andrology?
Andrology is the medical specialty that deals with male health, particularly relating to the problems of the male reproductive system and urological problems that are unique to men.
When do I need to visit Genea’s andrology department and give my sample?
Typically, if you and your partner are having difficulties conceiving your GP or a fertility specialist will provide you with a request form for andrology testing. You can then book your test with us online.
How do I prepare for my appointment?
For the appointment you must make sure you have a referral with the exact testing required, which has been signed and dated by your doctor
Please make sure you have adhered to the abstinence period.
What is the abstinence period?
The abstinence period refers to the time during which you must not ejaculate. This is important for the following reasons:
- The ideal abstinence period is three days (no more, no less). However, two to five days is acceptable. When making a booking you will be notified which day you ideally need to ejaculate on before your appointment.
- Sometimes, doctors will also provide patients with specific abstinence instructions.
- When you arrive for your appointment we will ask you when you last ejaculated so we can ensure you have followed the correct abstinence period.
Why does a short or long abstinence make the results inaccurate?
An abstinence period which is too long may be reflected in the analysis by an increased number of immotile (non swimming) sperm. An abstinence period which is too short, may be reflected in the analysis by a decreased semen volume and decreased number of mature sperm.
Does sickness affect my sample?
If you have a fever it can affect the quality of the sample, it is best to discuss any concerns with your doctor.
Where do I provide a sample at the clinic?
At each Genea andrology lab, there are private collection rooms. You will be provided with a sterile 70ml sample jar, if needed a 250ml sterile sample jar can be requested.
How will I know if I have collected enough?
The average lowest volume of ejaculate is 1.5ml, which is about one third of a teaspoon, however remember that it is more about the quality of the sperm than the quantity of the semen fluid.
Why do I have to say how much sample I missed?
The beginning of the ejaculate is the most concentrated part of the sample, which is why it is important to say the percentage of sample missed and from which part of the ejaculate.
Missing a large percentage of your sample can affect the concentration (sperm number) result. If this occurs you will be asked to reschedule your appointment.
Is there entertainment and lubricant in the room?
Each of the Andrology collection rooms has digital material, magazines and free wi-fi, sperm-safe lubricant is also provided. We also provide alcohol and soft drinks in the bar fridge in the room.
Can my partner come into the room with me?
Yes, your partner can go into the collection room with you.
Can I collect via intercourse?
If you are unable to collect via masturbation for religious, personal or medical reasons it is possible to collect via intercourse using a specially designed non-toxic condom which can be provided upon request.
If your sample will be used for freezing or an ART procedure (such as IVF), it is required that you witness a scientist remove the sample from the condom, so that a Guthrie card can be prepared.
What is the Guthrie card?
Guthrie cards store DNA from the semen as a reference of the sample you provide. A card is made up every time you either freeze a sample or have an ART procedure.
How long can you spend in the collection room?
The timing of an andrology appointment is as long as it takes for you to collect your sample. If you are freezing your sample or are a donor there will also be a small amount of paperwork to complete beforehand, this will usually take around 10 minutes.
Can I collect my sample at home instead of your rooms?
Yes, but you must deliver the sample within 60 minutes
Why do I need to get to the clinic within 60 minutes if I collect my sample at home?
The sample needs to be tested within 60 minutes as recommended by the World Health Organisation guidelines, sperm motility (how many sperm are moving) can start to decrease after this time.
How do I transport the sample from home?
Samples collected at home should be collected in a sterile specimen jar, provided by Genea. It is recommended that the sample be carried in your pocket or close to your body to keep the sample as close to body temperature as possible.
If I collect at home, can I use lubricant?
Saliva, lubricants and creams are to be avoided for use when collecting as they can have adverse effects on the sample. They may also introduce bacteria or toxic substances. The Genea provided lubricant is the only suitable lubricant for collection and will be provided if you are doing a home collection.
Why do I need to make an appointment for a home collection?
It is important to book an appointment even if you collect your sample at home as this ensures a scientist will be available to perform the testing.
Can my partner bring in my sample?
We will not accept samples brought to the clinic by another party as we are required to ensure that the sample has been provided with the consent of the sample’s owner and to confirm the origin of the sample.
What if I have trouble collecting?
Don’t worry, we are happy for you to take a break, go for a walk, or grab a coffee and then return. If you are uncomfortable collecting in our rooms, talk to a scientist about home collection and rescheduling your appointment.
Is there a toilet in the collection rooms?
There is not a toilet in the collection rooms however there will be one nearby. Ask reception before your appointment.
Do I need to fast for this?
You are not required to fast for any of our tests.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is a Genea Group blog and as such information may not be relevant for all clinics. We advise that you consult clinics directly for further information.