Andrology Services

Please note that all andrology testing requires a physician’s referral.

Semen AnalysisSperm Cell Anatomy

Semen analysis is a critical component of infertility testing and provides essential information about the clinical status of the individual. Semen analysis may also be ordered for patients after vasectomy to determine the success of the procedure. Numerous parameters of the semen are evaluated including volume, viscosity, non-liquefaction, sperm cell density, motility, forward progression, activity, round cell density, and agglutination. Fructose presence may be determined as part of a semen analysis if certain initial parameters are met or if ordered by the physician.

The following instructions are important for obtaining the most accurate semen analysis:

  • A 2-5 day period of abstinence from any ejaculation prior to semen analysis is recommended for the best quality sample.
  • The entire sample must be collected by masturbation, WITHOUT the use of lubricants, which can damage the specimen, into a sterile collection container (supplied by the laboratory or obtained from a physician’s office if collecting the sample at home).
  • A complete ejaculate is required for accurate evaluation. Collection of only a portion of the ejaculate should be reported to the laboratory because different parts of the ejaculate contain different concentrations of sperm cells.
  • The laboratory has private collection rooms, however, specimens may be collected at home provided the following are adhered to:
  • The specimen must be received by Pittsburgh Cryobank, Inc within 30 minutes of collection.
  • The specimen must remain at body temperature during transport to the laboratory.

Retrograde Semen Analysis: During a retrograde ejaculation, semen is ejaculated into the urinary bladder rather than through the remaining reproductive tract and out through the penis. The sperm cells can be retrieved from the urine using various methodologies and used for reproductive procedures including sperm cryopreservation. A retrograde semen analysis includes evaluation of both the ejaculate that may be collected and the voided urine sample using the same parameters as in a semen analysis.

Viability Analysis

Living sperm cells without motility are distinguished from dead sperm cells during a viability analysis. A staining technique is used based on the principle that a dead cell with a deteriorated membrane will allow the stain to enter while an intact (viable) membrane will not. Normally, a semen sample should have greater than 50% viable sperm cells. A valuable tool when assessing specimens with low percent forward progression, Pittsburgh Cryobank automatically performs a viability analysis on semen samples having less than 10% forward progression. A sperm viability analysis may also be ordered by a physician as a separate andrology test.

Morphology Analysis

A morphology analysis is a microscopic examination and evaluation of the shape of each individual sperm cell. Criteria have been established for assessing normal and abnormal head, neck & midpiece, and tail sections of sperm cells. These criteria have been associated with fertilization rates in Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) procedures. Therefore, assessing sperm morphology may be helpful in a physician’s determination of which ART method should be utilized to yield the most successful results.

Other Andrology Tests

Additional andrology testing is available but is most often ordered as specialty testing by a physician attempting to diagnose otherwise unexplained infertility.

  • Sperm Antibody (Direct and Indirect): Detects the presence of antibodies on sperm cells (Direct) or within the female’s bloodstream (Indirect). Antibodies may interfere with fertilization.
  • Bovine Cervical Mucus Penetration: A sperm function test whereby the sperm’s pattern of movement is measured in bovine cervical mucus as an indication of the movement in human cervical mucus.
  • Qualitative Fructose: Tests for presence of fructose, a specialized sugar, in a semen sample.

Semen Processing Methods

Testicular Biopsy or MESA (Microsurgical Epidydimal Sperm Aspiration): tissue (testicular biopsy) or fluid (MESA) samples are collected by a urologist or infertility specialist to obtain sperm from the patients in which other options for obtaining sperm have not been productive. Tissue samples are dissected and minced, releasing any sperm present from testicular tubules. Fluid is surgically retrieved from the vas deferens or epididymis and typically yields motile sperm. The recovered sperm can be cryopreserved for future procedures or used immediately.

Sperm Wash: freshly ejaculated semen or previously unwashed cryopreserved specimens are washed prior to use for any ART procedure, including IUI. The wash concentrates and separates the usable motile sperm cells from non-motile sperm, debris and surrounding seminal fluid.