WHAT PERCENTAGE OF MEN WHO ARE TRYING TO GET THEIR PARTNER PREGNANT HAVE ABNORMAL SEMEN ANALYSIS RESULTS?
In the past when a woman could not conceive, people always assumed she was the reason. Nowadays, we know that half the time they were wrong. Regardless of whether we are talking about female or male factor infertility, if a woman, 35 years old or younger, has been trying to conceive for 1 year with no results, she should consult a fertility specialist. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for women over the age of 35, that time is shortened to 6 months. This is due to the rapid decline in female fertility after that age.
A 2012 survey from WHO with data from 190 countries, states 1 in 4 couples of reproductive age is affected by infertility. In half of those cases, infertility is caused by male factor. We have to exclude cases of unexplained infertility (~ 10%), because in those cases conventional diagnostic methods did not identifying the cause of infertility. In other words if 1 in 4 couples has fertility issues, then 1 in 8 (~13%) of those couples is affected by male factor infertility. Once we subtract unexplained infertility cases, we get that roughly 10% of men trying for a baby have serious deviations from normal semen parameters. That percentage does not include men with slight deviations from the norm, which do not necessitate treatment or in vitro fertilization to achieve a pregnancy.
WHAT INFORMATION DOES CONVENTIONAL SEMEN ANALYSIS GIVE?
Semen analysis evaluates male fertility based on different parameters of the ejaculate (semen). The three most important parameters which it analyses are:
- Sperm concentration per ml of ejaculate
- Sperm motility and
- Sperm morphology (shape).
According to the World Health Organisation at least two semen analyses have to be done for reliable results. There has to be at least a month between the two analyses. In this way the treating physician will know that the results are not just momentary but accurately represent the fertility status of the patient.
Unfortunately, some men do not wish to get semen analysis testing, because they fear the results. It is important to know, however, that the result of a semen analysis is not a diagnosis. Diagnosis is given by a physician after physical examination and a number of tests. The earlier you take care of yourself and your fertility, the better!