Male Partner Evaluation
Semen Analysis

Diagnosing male infertility usually begins with a medical history and a semen analysis. Male infertility may be caused by:

  • Prior surgery or infection
  • A structural (anatomic) abnormality
  • A hormonal (endocrine) abnormality
  • A genetic abnormality
  • Lifestyle or environmental factors

If the semen analysis is abnormal, it is often repeated. If it remains abnormal, the patient is encouraged to make an appointment with a Urologist who specializes in infertility. The Emory Reproductive Center has an on-site male urologist with whom you can make an appointment.

How do I prepare for semen analysis?

You should not have any sexual activity, including masturbation, for two to five days before your testing to help ensure your sperm count is at its highest level.

What happens during semen analysis?

You must provide a semen sample for analysis. The sample can be collected on-site in a designated semen collection room or at home using a kit provided by the clinic at your first appointment.

The kit contains everything needed to collect a semen sample.

A picture ID is required when you deliver your specimen to the ERC. Samples collected off site must be delivered within 1 hour of collection. Samples will not be accepted without a picture ID and can only be delivered by the person who produced the sample. A spouse or partner cannot drop off your sample for you.

For best results:

  • Do not use lubricants or lotions.
  • If using a condom for collection, do not use a regular condom. Use only the special non-spermicidal condom.
  • Use only the container provided in the collection kit. Other containers may be toxic to sperm and could produce inaccurate test results.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures.

What can I expect after a semen analysis?

You should not experience any aftereffects following your semen analysis. You can resume your normal activities immediately upon its completion.

What are the risks of semen analysis?

This procedure has no known risks.

Retrograde Ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation causes some or all of your semen to go backward into your bladder.. Diabetes, certain medications, and surgery can cause this condition.

Sample collection for retrograde ejaculation is done on-site in the ERC collection room. Your doctor can help you select the treatment method that is best for you.

Sudafed, an over-the-counter medication, can help increase the amount of ejaculate.

  • Take one 60 mg pill of Sudafed about 40 minutes before your collection begins.
  • Take 1 tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in 1 cup of warm water about 30 minutes before your collection.
  • Upon arrival at the ERC, empty most, but not all, of your bladder. You will need a small amount of urine at the end of the collection to retrieve the retrograde semen.
  • You will be given two sterile containers. Masturbate into one of them and collect any semen that is produced. Urinate into the other sterile container.
  • Provide both containers to the lab in the designated location.

Sodium bicarbonate changes the pH of your urine so the sperm can survive. Once a sample is collected, it is washed and concentrated for use in intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization.

  • Take 1 teaspoon of plain baking soda dissolved in 1 cup of warm water three times a day on the day before your sample collection.
  • Repeat this process the morning of your sample collection.
  • Plain Alka-Seltzer with no other medications may be used in place of baking soda.


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