By Soubhik Chakrabarti
Life’s unpredictable. Sometimes things happen, and sometimes they don’t as you expect them to.
Should you race to the finish line first, you win the first round – being born.
A few decades down the line, you’re probably trying to have your baby. And if your wife’s not showing any pregnancy signs, you get worried.
Many couples today suffer from infertility problems. And surprise, surprise, it’s not always because of the woman.
According to a 2015 study, in nearly half of the cases, it’s a combination of male and female factors.
You can always take your wife to the doctor to check for ovulation issues, but don’t forget to go for a semen analysis yourself.
Getting a semen analysis helps determine your fertility status and your semen health. You can always do it in the comfort of your home, but if you’re looking for a more detailed analysis, going to the lab might be a great idea.
Semen Analysis at Home Vs. In the Lab
You can test your semen at home with home testing kits or go for lab testing for more accurate results – it’s totally up to you. Sure, home kits are convenient, fast, and affordable to determine your fertility.
However, getting your semen analysis is a professional diagnosis – and you need something you can depend on. When it comes to zeroing in on the problem, you want answers. Not a “maybe” or a “could be.”
Semen analysis from lab test results helps remove that doubt completely. So, when should you go for a lab analysis – and what are the benefits?
Standardization with More Data
If you have difficulty conceiving and you’ve already used at-home test kits, you may want to get more insight.
Labs follow strict standards set by leading health bodies of the world, like the WHO. Doctors follow a step-by-step approach to analyze the samples, using advanced equipment to rule out any possibility of unreliable results.
For that to happen, though:
- If you’re collecting semen at home, it needs to reach the lab within one hour.
- You may need to give another sample after a couple of weeks.
Labs can also give you a sterile, wide-mouth container where you can deposit the semen sample.
Professional Interpretation and Diagnosis
Home test kits don’t come with a medical professional to interpret the results. You have to depend on your equipment, mobile app, or software. Sometimes, that might not be enough.
With lab analysis, certified experts use their experience to give you a more accurate picture of your fertility.
What’s the magic number?
- Your sperm count should be at least 15 million per sample.
- If it’s lesser, your sperm count is low.
The Top Things A Lab Semen Analysis Can Look For
What do you do if you have an allergy? You avoid exposing yourself to the allergen, like avoiding peanut butter. Often, you would know what that allergen is. At times, you may not be able to identify the allergen with normal life and testing. In those cases, you need to go in for a more comprehensive skin or food allergy test.
Think of a lab semen analysis test as an overall health checkup. It’s what you do if you’re having a health issue, but you can’t pinpoint the reason for it.
This includes looking at several factors, like:
- Whether you’re producing a healthy volume of semen
- Whether the viscosity or thickness is as expected
- The sperm volume, sperm count, and concentration
- Sperm motility, which tells how efficiently the sperm can fertilize the egg.
- Normal and abnormal sperm ratio
- pH level in the semen sample to measure the acidity
- Average immature sperms in the sample
- Whether you have a normal number of white blood cells, to know if your body is suffering from an infection
- Coagulation and liquefaction factors, which can influence your semen quality.
Lab tests help you figure out what’s happening before the sperm reaches the egg.
- Can it not penetrate the egg covering? Your sperms need to be strong enough to swim through the cervical mucus.
- Are you having problems with sperm production? We do need a lot of those little ones.
- Is there an underlying genetic issue? Many suffer from conditions like Aspermia or Azoospermia.
Lab tests determine your sperm shape, movement, volume, and appearance, something not possible with home tests. You cannot tailor your home tests or evaluate different parameters like in a lab.
Know how to Treat the Issue
It’s not always bad news. Many times, all it needs are a few lifestyle changes.
For example, you can use sperm analysis equipment to differentiate between slow and quick progressive spermatozoa.
Technology helps you get a better analysis that you can trust – without human errors.
Higher Reliability Compared to Home-Kit Tests
Home semen analysis kits are physical products. They can get broken. Getting FDA-approved home kits may help improve the accuracy, but they aren’t as comprehensive.
Lab semen analyses tell you about your sperm shape and its motility with lab tests. Doctors can also check the pH levels, the density of your sperm, and vitality – all at an affordable cost.
When Should You Go for a Lab Test?
DIY semen analysis kits are great for a quick and basic evaluation. But if you get abnormal results or know something’s wrong, you might have to take a lab test for more accurate, objective results. It helps you know what’s wrong and know how you can get past it.
If you’re trying to conceive for more than six months or have abnormal results with your home test kit, you may want to go for a lab test.
Want a report beyond sperm count and motility? Lab tests are the way forward.
- By Soubhik Chakrabarti