As a male patient undergoing fertility treatment it can be an emotional and daunting time with the focus often being on the female partner and how she is feeling. The stress and worry that the male partner often goes through shouldn’t be underestimated and I’ll be writing a series of articles providing information on what to expect as a male partner going through fertility treatment. This first article is on everything you need to know about sperm collection.

Andrology is the medical specialty that focuses on male health particularly male reproductive health. Sperm collection will be required if I have recommended a semen analysis or if you are undergoing fertility treatment such as IUI or IVF. If you are undergoing an IVF cycle your sperm will be collected at the same time as your partner is having her egg collection. Leading up to the sperm collection day please make sure you have abstained from ejaculation for three days.  A shorter or longer time may influence the analysis with a long period resulting in an increased number of sperm non- swimming (immotile) and a period that is too short decreasing the volume of semen and the number of mature sperm. When you arrive for your sperm collection appointment its normal that you will be asked when you last ejaculated as a way of ensuring the lab can test the best possible sample.

Although the scientists only need about one third of a teaspoon, the quality of the sample is more important than the quantity which is why one of the Andrology staff will ask how much of the sample you missed. The beginning of the ejaculate is the most concentrated part of the sample so if possible that’s the most important part to collect and the andrology team will also ask you which part of the ejaculate you missed. If you did miss a large part of the sample the andrology team will chat to you about possibly rescheduling your appointment. Below are some answers to the common questions I get from patients:

Can my partner come into the collection room with me?
Yes, your partner can go into the collection room with you.

Is there entertainment and lubricant in the room?
Each of the collection rooms have movies and magazines as well as sperm-safe lubricant.

Can I collect my sample at home instead of the collection rooms?
Yes the andrology team can provide you with a collection jar to take home. You’ll just need to bring the sample back to andrology within 60 minutes. Sperm motility (how many sperm are moving) can start to decrease after about an hour. If you’re collecting at home you’ll just also need to remember to not use saliva, lubricants or creams as these can damage the quality of the sample.

Can I collect during intercourse instead?
If you are unable to masturbate for religious, personal or medical reasons it is possible to collect during intercourse using a non-toxic condom which the andrology team can provide you.

What if I’m sick?
Being sick won’t affect the quality of the sample unless you have an elevated temperature. If you do feel like you have a fever have a chat to me or the andrology team and we can discuss the best option for you.

The andrology team understands that the sperm collection process can be a stressful time so please don’t worry if you feel like you need to take a break or collect the sample from home instead. They have been working in this field for a long time and are experts at what they do so please never hesitate to ask any questions you have.