Sperm Tests

Fructose Test: Fructose is the sugar found in semen. If there is no fructose in the semen, it can mean that the seminal vesicles are blocked thereby stopping both semen and fructose from getting through. Absence of fructose in the semen can mean:

  • Sperms are not being produced by the testes or that they are being produced but the tubes are blocked and they cannot get through to be ejaculated
  • There are no seminal vesicles
  • There is blockage near the testes
  • Testes are not producing sperms

Findings of the Fructose Test can help in deciding on appropriate surgical corrections. But if semen has fructose but no sperms, further investigations are required.

Post-coital Test (PCT):

PCT is conducted to examine interaction between sperm and mucus of the cervix. It is conducted close to ovulation as mucus is abundant. During this time, the infertile couple is suggested to have sexual intercourse. Hours later, the woman is examined to record the presence of active sperm in the mucus. Ideally, active sperm must be found as they can survive for many hours. A poor PCT result indicates sperm or mucus problems. Further, ovulatory problems and poor coital technique can affect the PCT results.

Anti-sperm Anti Body Testing: This test is conducted to check for the presence of any sperm antibodies i.e. substances causing sperms to clump together, lose motility or prevent fertilization. These antibodies turn sperms into foreign bodies thereby making the immune system destroy them. Generally, sperm antibodies are produced in response to an infection. They are seen in about 70% of men after a vasectomy.

WBC in Sperms:

This test is conducted to determine immature sperm cells and WBC. Special stains are used to determine the immature sperm cells, which in large numbers can cause infertility. Presence of WBC indicates urinary tract infection. Further, semen culture test can detect diseases like sexually transmitted diseases.

Hamster Test:

This also called the sperm penetration assay (SPA). In this test, eggs are taken from a female hamster and stripped of their outer shell-like covering. Eggs are then exposed to human sperms in the laboratory. Sperms are able to penetrate these eggs. Normal tests indicate 10 to 20 % of egg penetration. Lesser counts indicate problems with the sperm penetration. This test is useful to know the sperm penetration quality and studies.

Acrosome Reaction Tests:

This test reveals sperm’s ability to penetrate the egg to fertilize it.

Sperms anterior region are covered by enzyme filled cap like structure called acrosome. While penetrating the egg, these enzymes will dissolve the outer harder shell of the egg and penetrate to fertilize it. This test will use special stains to determine if the sperm can able to dissolve the egg shell.

Zona Binding or Hemizona Assay:

Eggs are collected through autopsies, surgical procedures or IVF programs. These eggs are then halved. One half is incubated with a known fertile donor’s sperm and the other with the male patient’s sperm. An index is tabulated by counting the number of sperm bound to each half of the egg. This test can reveal if the sperms are capable of binding the egg and penetrating the egg.

Hypo-Osmotic Swelling Test:

Each sperm is surrounded by a cell membrane that functions like skin and the basic function of the skin is to protect sperm and keep it intact. This test is to examine the function of the sperm’s cell membrane. Sperms are placed in a special salt and sugar solution and examined for swelling of the sperm tail. Abnormality in this test suggests weakened sperm functioning that could result in infertility.

Medication associated with infertility:

Some form of medication and chemicals affect the function of the sperm and the general health. Like the medication followed for high blood pressure, gout disease, kidney function, stress relief and steroids. Drugs like caffeine, cocaine, and alcohol too have a negative impact on fertility. Alpha Blockers and Ganglionic blockers are drugs affecting the ejaculation. Proloactin-inducing agents and other substances affect the hormonal activity.