Other Tests For Sperm

In addition to the basic semen analysis just discussed, sometimes additional tests for sperm are conducted. Depending on your circumstances, some of these tests may be performed on a sperm sample.

Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay

In recent years, medical research has shown that certain abnormalities found within the sperm's DNA can lead to infertility. In such cases, even a man with completely normal standard semen analysis may not be able to bring about pregnancy. That's because the sperm with the abnormal DNA is not able to fertilize the egg.

DNA damage may be found in sperm from both fertile and infertile men. Therefore, further investigation is required if this test is abnormal. Some causes of abnormal sperm DNA may be cancer treatments (radiation or chemotherapy) or varicocele (a group of dilated veins in the scrotum). Although rare, the sperm DNA may spontaneously revert back to normal. Other times, surgical or medical treatment is effective in returning the sperm DNA to normal.

Computerized Analysis of Sperm Motion

The computerized assisted analysis of sperm motion helps the fertility specialist show a relationship between sperm motility and fertility. This method of measuring sperm movement and speed is more precise than the basic evaluation done during a semen analysis.

This test is performed with a video camera connected to a microscope. The data is projected onto a TV-like monitor screen and then transferred to a computer especially programmed to analyze sperm motion. The computer indicates the sperm speed and also how straight the sperm move.

The sperm are rated on a grading system ranging from 1 to 4. Grade 1 sperm tend to wiggle in place without making forward progression. These are unlikely to have the capability to fertilize an egg. Grade 4 sperm tend to move quickly and in a very straight line. They are much more likely to successfully fertilize an egg. Many labs state that the sperm motion must average about 2+ to possess good fertility potential.

Hamster Test

The hamster test is a test of the sperm's ability to penetrate hamster eggs. This test may be recommended when the male partner has a normal semen analysis and the woman has no obvious fertility problem, but pregnancy is still not occurring.

Using special enzymes, the laboratory technician must first remove the special outer coating on the hamster eggs. The special coating is present to prevent animals other than hamsters from fertilizing the hamster egg. After the coating is removed, the sperm are mixed with the hamster eggs. The eggs are then examined to see how many of them have been penetrated by the sperm. Failure to pen etrate a certain percentage of eggs may indicate male infertility and require other testing.

This test may be performed prior to IVF to see if that technology will be successful for the couple. Essentially, the hamster test is a trial run of IVF but uses hamster eggs instead of a woman's.

The hamster test has about a 90 percent accuracy rate. However, a potential drawback is that it may have to be performed several times to give the most accurate results. In addition, this test is quite expensive.

Antisperm Antibody (ASA)

For various reasons, a man may develop antibodies against his own sperm. If this occurs, antisperm antibodies attach themselves to the sperm's surface. This condition can adversely affect the sperm's movement and ability to fertilize an egg.

There are theories as to why sperm antibodies occur. It is believed that men can only produce antibodies against sperm when their sperm come into contact with their own blood. This may happen with an injury or during a surgery, such as a vasectomy.

Sperm antibodies can be measured either in the man's semen or from a blood sample.

Pregnancy Guide

Pregnancy Guide

A Beginner's Guide to Healthy Pregnancy. If you suspect, or know, that you are pregnant, we ho pe you have already visited your doctor. Presuming that you have confirmed your suspicions and that this is your first child, or that you wish to take better care of yourself d uring pregnancy than you did during your other pregnancies; you have come to the right place.

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