Whether you’re actively trying to have a baby or you’re considering freezing your sperm, there are a number of reasons why you might want to get your sperm tested. A semen analysis is a great way to determine the quality and quantity of your sperm and evaluate other key factors of your fertility.
But a semen analysis is just one test to consider. Other advanced sperm tests, like a DNA fragmentation analysis and antisperm antibody testing, can provide more insights into your sperm health, which can be helpful if you’re having trouble conceiving. Find out what you can expect from sperm testing and how at-home tests compare to traditional in-clinic testing.
- A semen analysis is a great way to determine the quality and quantity of your sperm and evaluate other key factors of your fertility.
- Some common reasons to get a semen analysis include: you’re trying to have a baby, you’re considering freezing your sperm, you had a vasectomy or vasectomy reversal, or you simply want to improve your fertility.
- Other advanced tests to consider include a DNA fragmentation analysis and antisperm antibody testing, especially if you are already having trouble conceiving.
- Legacy’s at-home sperm testing kit allows you to test all key metrics of male fertility health from the comfort of home.
What is a semen analysis?
Also known as a “sperm count test” or “male fertility test,” a semen analysis measures a person’s sperm and semen. This includes key factors like how your sperm move (motility), sperm concentration (density), and the shape of your sperm (morphology).
A semen analysis is often one of the first steps in diagnosing male-factor infertility. The results may reveal why a person is having trouble conceiving so that doctors can make recommendations to either improve sperm or seek assisted reproductive technology, like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). A semen analysis can also indicate whether a vasectomy or vasectomy reversal has been successful.
Who should do semen analysis?
Whether you’re trying to have kids now or you’re hoping to have them in the future, there are many reasons why you might want to do a semen analysis. You may even want to perform this test to get another data point about your overall health, as the test can offer clues on other issues, such as abnormal hormone levels or infections that can affect your overall health.
Here are some common reasons why you might perform a semen analysis:
- You’re trying to have a baby. Whether you are already having issues conceiving or you want to ensure your sperm is healthy before trying, a semen analysis can help make the process easier. Testing your sperm early may help you avoid expensive and unnecessary tests or treatments in the future.
- You’re planning on freezing your sperm. If you plan on having children in the future, freezing your sperm is a great way to preserve your fertility when sperm is young and healthy. After all, sperm quality declines with aging and you never know what injuries or illnesses may impair your fertility in the future. Testing your sperm prior to sperm freezing helps ensure the sperm you’re freezing is healthy.
- You’ve had a vasectomy or vasectomy reversal. A vasectomy is a medical procedure that prevents sperm from entering your semen, rendering you infertile. A semen analysis is usually performed 12–16 weeks after a vasectomy, to make sure the procedure worked. Conversely, a vasectomy reversal is a surgery to undo a vasectomy and reinstate fertility. A semen analysis can then show there is sperm back in the semen.
- You want to improve your fertility and overall health. You don’t need to be actively trying to have a baby to improve your fertility and overall health. Testing your sperm before you start trying establishes a baseline and highlights opportunities where you might improve your sperm health. This can help you avoid hassles in the future or build a suitable treatment plan.
When is the right time to do sperm testing?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that you abstain from ejaculating and having sex for a period of two to seven days before having your sperm tested. This duration has been found to yield the highest-quality sperm.
There is also evidence that circadian rhythms may influence semen quality due to fluctuations in hormones and body temperature over a 24-hour period. Recent research shows semen parameters are at their highest between 11 am and 3 pm.
If you are using a semen analysis to check sperm parameters after a vasectomy, you should test 12 weeks after the procedure to ensure it has been effective. If you are testing after a vasectomy reversal, we recommend testing your sperm once a month for 12 months to monitor the recovery of your sperm count and quality.
Who can use Legacy’s at-home sperm testing kit?
Any person who produces semen can use Legacy’s at-home sperm testing kit, which allows you to provide your sample in the comfort and privacy of your home and send it directly to our lab in the mail. You will receive your results in as little as a week. All testing kits include the option to freeze your sperm for an extra cost.
You don’t need to be actively trying to have a child to use Legacy’s at-home sperm testing kit. No prescription is needed. Simply wanting to have a better understanding of your fertility is reason enough to order a semen analysis.
Advanced sperm tests
A semen analysis is typically the first test people consider when evaluating their sperm health. But there are a few other advanced sperm tests to consider, especially if you are already having trouble conceiving. These include a DNA fragmentation analysis and antisperm antibody testing.
DNA fragmentation analysis
Sperm DNA fragmentation refers to DNA damage within sperm that can contribute to male-factor infertility, IVF failure, and miscarriage. This DNA damage can be caused by a number of factors, which include illness, injury, and lifestyle choices that cause oxidative stress, like smoking.
A sperm DNA fragmentation analysis will provide you with insights into how much of your sperm contains damaged DNA. This is known as a DNA fragmentation index (DFI). The higher your DFI, the more genetic damage your sperm contains.
Even if your sperm analysis results are normal, you may still want to order this test if you are continuing to have trouble conceiving. After all, in about 15% of cases, those with high DNA fragmentation have normal parameters on their initial semen analysis. By evaluating your sperm’s genetic health, your doctor can better understand why a fertility treatment cycle has failed.
Consider ordering a DNA fragmentation analysis if you are experiencing unexplained infertility or failed IVF cycles, if you’ve had multiple miscarriages, or you are over 40 years old.
Antisperm antibody testing
Rarely, your immune system will mistakenly identify sperm cells as foreign invaders and attack them using antibodies. Antisperm antibody testing seeks out antisperm antibodies in semen, where they can damage or kill sperm.
You may want to order this test if you have received abnormal results in your semen analysis or if you have unexplained infertility.
At-home vs. in-clinic sperm testing
In the past, to have your semen tested, you had to visit a doctor’s office or fertility clinic. You provided your sample in some sterile “collection room” and then carried your cup to the lab, hoping not to run into anyone on the way. Though there are a number of at-home tests now available, allowing you to collect your sample at home, many of them only provide sperm count, and do not include other important factors, like motility and morphology, that in-clinic testing provides. Legacy’s at-home sperm testing kits test all key factors of sperm health so you can get a full picture of your fertility. You also have the option of ordering a DNA fragmentation analysis and freezing your sperm for an extra cost. After collecting your sample, you simply use our special transport media, which is clinically proven to protect and extend the life of sperm for overnight shipping and analysis.
Cost of sperm testing
At a traditional lab or fertility clinic, the cost of sperm testing is typically around $250–500, and sperm DNA fragmentation testing may be an additional $500 or more.
With Legacy, a comprehensive semen analysis costs just $295, or can be combined with a sperm DNA fragmentation analysis for $590. Some insurance and employer benefit plans may cover the cost of sperm testing and/or freezing.
Find out more about insurance coverage to see if you’re eligible.