Taking a male fertility test requires preparedness-mentally, physically and, yes, emotionally. Men may not be great at expressing their emotions all the time, but they do have feelings, just like you. As his partner, you can play a big role in helping him express his unvoiced fears and apprehensions about his test.
Getting ready for the big day
A semen analysis is the first, most common, and non-invasive fertility test usually performed in a lab. Two to three days before the test, your man must abstain from sexual intercourse. On the big day, his health care provider will ask him for a fresh semen sample to be collected in a sterile container via masturbation or in a special condom via ejaculation.
The collected sample must be analyzed within two hours; the fresher the sample, the more accurate the test results. Your man can do a home fertility test. But if you live near a lab, you might as well let the experts handle it for him.
His sample will be assessed for:
This is his number of sperm per milliliter of semen. The healthy average is above 60 million sperm. Below 20 million sperm indicates infertility. He will register zero sperm if he suffers from azoospermia. However, a high sperm count may still indicate infertility due to other factors.
Sperm Motility/ Movement
Ideally, 50 percent or more of your man’s sperm should be active. Grade 3 or 4 motility indicates fertility. Ask your health care provider to explain the grading system for sperm motility.
This test will analyze if his sperm sticks together, since clumping can hamper motility and may lead to infertility.
Normal sperm shape (sperm with oval heads, mid-piece, and long tail) indicates fertility. At least 30 percent of your man’s sperm should look like this. If not, there is a big chance that the rest of his sperm are also abnormal.
Other fertility factors
The semen analysis will also assess his ejaculate volume, total motile count (the number of motile sperm based on ejaculates), white blood cell level in the semen, and seminal fluidity, among others. Ask your health care provider to explain these other factors.
Unfamiliar experiences such as getting tested normally trigger a gamut of emotional reactions, even in men. Hence, expect the process to be emotionally demanding to both of you and be ready for this.
Testing is an important part of your bigger goal to get pregnant. Remind him this and assure him that it is normal to feel anxious or uncertain about his test. This is nothing to be embarrassed about. If he feels uncomfortable about any part of the test, encourage him to discuss this with his health care provider.
Handle with care
What possible emotions can he experience when D Day arrives and test results turn out to be bad news? Experts say most men usually feel shocked, because they assume that infertility is a female issue. Other common male reactions include stress, feelings of vulnerability, confusion, disbelief, and denial.
Your partner may struggle with the idea of incapability and worthlessness, and start to question his sexuality, masculinity, and virility. He may also feel angry toward you or medical attendants; resent his participation in further tests; feel depressed and insecure; and experience temporary sexual problems such as loss of interest or poor erection.
If your man exhibits any of these, don’t worry. His reaction is normal. Psychologically, he is expressing grief and will need a lot of compassion and understanding. But as he comes to terms with his infertility, such emotions will gradually diminish. Of course, your support, encouragement, and love as well as the help of your health care provider or an infertility counselor will also play a big part in helping him overcome.
Social support can further assist both of you in coping with the emotional stresses that come with infertility. It is important for both of you to cope with such emotions in a healthy and positive way.
Your loved one may find it more comfortable to join an all-male support group to help him express his stressful experience. Ask your health care provider for references. Doing some online or library research can help him better understand male infertility.
There are many medical and alternative treatments for male infertility and most types can be dealt with so that you can become pregnant. Knowing the cause of your infertility as a couple can now help you both find a solution and this can be considered a very positive step! Talk with your doctor and do your research to find the best medical and complimentary treatments for beating male factor infertility so that you can have a baby together.