Laboratory evaluation refers to the process that takes place when a laboratory investigates a disease or certain symptoms in order to learn what the disease is. In this article, we’ll present the steps of a laboratory evaluation when testing sperm for quality, sperm count, infertility or other disorders. Infertility and other reproductive disorders have preoccupied mankind for a long time now, starting with the first civilizations that prayed to fertility gods – for food and offspring –, continuing with certain herbs and naturist treatments that were supposed to cure infertility and up to the twentieth century or earlier, when we started a more medical and scientific approach of the disorders.
The first ever test for male infertility to be invented was the simple spermatogram, which had its bases established in the 1940s and was perfected in the following decades. So the spermatogram was standard laboratory evaluation for infertility in men, but as the years passed, the tests and procedures became more accurate and precise, so that they specified precisely sperm concentration, morphology or other aspects that could indicate this disorder. Nowadays a laboratory evaluation of sperm includes precise equipment and technology, which can provide accurate measurements and evaluation of every characteristic of the tested matter. However, a spermatogram is more accurate and complete if the physician in charge takes its time with each step, if he/she pays careful attention and maintains a high quality standard for each procedure. Also, the biochemical tests need to be executed with great precision and functional tests as well, because untrue values could lead to misdiagnosis and poor treatment.
If a spermatogram is accurate, it can make the difference between fertile men, subfertile men and infertile ones; it can also pinpoint the exact causes of the disorders, which are, like we said, vital for a correct and complete treatment that can lead to cure. For a spermatogram to be completed, another step of the laboratory evaluation must take place first: human semen collection. Human semen is composed out of several “ingredients” which are testicular and epididymal secretions, sperm, prostate and seminal vesicles and bulboa-urethral secretions. However, the semen collection must take place within certain parameters in order to insure true and correct results when testing.
The standard parameters for human semen collection were established in 1987 and have remained the same since. The most important aspect is that the sperm be collected at least 48 hours after the last sexual contact and no later than 7 days abstinence at the most. The first evaluation requires two samples, which are tested some time apart to verify for inconsistencies. The first analysis will take place a few days after collection and the second a few months later, no further than three months. If the results are inconclusive, then a third test must be made.