Full spermogram and sperm culture (Sperm evaluation)
Sperm tests, also known as spermograms or semen analyses, are the main examination for assessing male fertility. It is performed at a microbiology lab and requires abstaining from sexual contact for 3-5 days prior to testing. Then, on the day of the appointment for the test, the man produces a sperm sample, which is collected in a specimen cup, similar the one used for a urine test. It is important not to lose the first drop, as this contains the “largest number of and top quality” spermatozoa, and also to collect the entire quantity of sperm of the ejaculation. Since the test is usually followed by a sperm culture in order to check for microbes in the sperm, we recommend the interior walls of the container not be touched, since they have been sterilised.
After the sperm has been collected it is delivered to the microbiology lab for tests to be performed. In the context of the tests what is of concern is the overall volume of sperm (it should be noted that sperm contains seminal fluid and spermatozoa), it is observed whether the fluid is viscous or not, the number of spermatozoa per cubic centimetre and in total is examined, as is their motility, which is the percentage of spermatozoa that are motile as well as how many are highly motile. It has been observed that the percentage of highly motile spermatozoa is related to fertility and that makes sense, as the highly motile spermatozoa are the ones that will travel along the female reproductive tract to reach the fallopian tube and fertilise the ovum. We also examine the percentage of spermatozoa with normal morphology.
In the culture search for micro-organisms related to chronic inflammations of internal male reproductive organs, such as ordinary microbes, chlamydia, mycoplasma, and ureoplasma. These data are the results of the sperm test and because sperm presents spontaneous fluctuations with time, we recommend a second examination some weeks later (approximately 4-8 weeks) so that we can be certain of the true condition of the sperm.
Fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH) & sperm DNA fragmentation / Sperm apoptosis
The FISH method determines the number of chromosomes present in the spermatozoa. 46, the number mentioned earlier, is strictly mandatory for every human, and chromosomes contained in the spermatozoa have to be dividable by two (23 and 23), so that together with the 23 chromosomes of the other gamete they will make up 46. With the FISH method we determine how many spermatozoa have the right number of chromosomes (23) and how many have an abnormal number (fewer or more than 23). When the number of spermatozoa with an incorrect chromosome number (aneuploid ones) is increased, then there is a risk of problems occurring if fertilisation is caused by this sperm.
The second method is called sperm apoptosis and investigates whether there is any damage to the spermatozoa DNA, which is usually due to oxidative stress. It is a biochemical test with which we observe whether there is DNA apoptosis and fragmentation, and, in such cases, we mainly prescribe antioxidant vitamins. Both of these tests are part of the spermogram battery; this means that when the sperm is submitted, the tests mentioned above will also be performed on the same sample, if they are indicated.