What is diagnostic semen analysis?

Semen analysis is the gold-standard test performed to assess the fertility potential of a male. It is usually requested if a couple are having difficulties conceiving. Several important parameters are measured which include semen volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility and sperm morphology. All parameters are compared to reference ranges set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The total number of spermatozoa per ejaculate, sperm concentration and the extent of progressive sperm motility are related to pregnancy rates. Motility assessment is usually performed using computer-aided sperm analysis (CASA).

What is a post-vasectomy semen analysis?

Approximately 12 weeks after your operation you are required to produce a semen sample to confirm whether your vasectomy has been successful. During the analysis we will not only check for the presence of sperm but also whether any sperm seen are motile and have fertilisation potential.

Some sperm can remain in the vas deferens in the months following your procedure. It is important that you have ejaculated (via masturbation or with contraception) over 20 times before your post-vasectomy semen analysis to help clear out any sperm that have remained.

How do I get an appointment?

You will need to be referred to us by a clinician. Once we have received your referral we will send you out a pack to the address provided to us. This pack will contain your appointment date, time and location, instructions, a production form and sample pot. These instructions must be read in advance of attempting to produce your sample.

If you cannot make the appointment we have sent you please contact the laboratory on 0151 702 4214 in advance to reschedule. We are unable to accept any samples without an appointment.

I have been sent an appointment, do you have any directions?

  • The Hewitt Fertility Centre, Liverpool Women’s Hospital (L8 7SS)

The Lewis-Jones Andrology Department at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital is situated on the second floor. Please follow signs for the Hewitt Fertility Centre and our waiting room is situated next door. Appointments for diagnostic semen analysis and post-vasectomy semen analysis are available Monday to Friday.

  • The Hewitt Fertility Centre, Knutsford (WA16 8ZR)

The Andrology laboratory is situated on the ground floor. Upon arrival please report to reception and a member of staff will be able to assist you. Please note we are only able to offer appointments for post-vasectomy semen analysis on Tuesdays. Please feel free to contact us to find out the dates that these sessions are being held.

  • Ormskirk District General Hospital (L39 2AZ)

The Seminology laboratory is located within the Gynaecology and Maternity department. From the main entrance of the hospital please continue two thirds of the way up through the main corridor and turn right. Please note we are only able to offer appointments on Mondays. Please feel free to contact us to find out the dates that these sessions are being held.

  • Leighton District General Hospital (CW1 4QJ)

The Andrology Laboratory is situated on the 2nd floor (Ward 25) of Leighton Hospital. From the main entrance of the hospital proceed through the Antenatal Clinic entrance, take the stairs to the 2nd floor and follow signs to Ward 25. Please note we only offer appointments here on Fridays.

How should I produce the sample?

Samples should be collected by masturbation. Do not produce your sample using lubrication, condoms or through coitus interruptus (the withdrawal method).

If you are unable to masturbate, special non-toxic condoms designed specifically for the collection of semen samples are available for use at home. Please ask in advance of your appointment if this is something you require.

Where can I produce the sample?

You may produce your sample at home if you can deliver it to the laboratory at your allotted appointment time and within one hour from sample production. Whilst travelling from home it is important you keep the sample close to the body as sperm are sensitive to extremes of temperature. If preferable, your partner may deliver your sample and completed production form.

If you cannot deliver your sample to the laboratory within one hour of ejaculation or would rather produce your sample on site we have private, sound-proof production rooms available for use. 

Are there instructions for collecting the sample?

  • In order to obtain an optimum sample you are required to abstain from any sexual activity (masturbation or intercourse) for a minimum of 2-3 days, but no more than 7 days, before your appointment date.
  • Produce your sample by masturbation into the non-toxic sterile pot provided in your pack. Your pot must be labelled with your name, date of birth, and laboratory identification number. Please do not produce your sperm sample into anything other than the one issued to you by the laboratory. If you do not have a pot please contact us in advance of your appointment.
  • Please ensure you attempt to collect all of the semen produced. It is important you notify us if you missed some of your sample as it can have an impact on your results.
  • Once the sample has been collected please ensure the lid is screwed on tightly and place the pot inside the sealable bag provided.
  • Ensure you bring the fully completed request form with you to the hospital. We cannot accept your sample until this has been completed correctly.

How do I get my results?

Your results will be sent back to your referring clinician within 14 days after your semen analysis. We regret to inform you that under no circumstances are the laboratory staff able to give you the results directly.

Repeat tests

If you cannot produce your sample or have an incomplete collection you will be asked to repeat the test after a further 2-3 days abstinence. If you have been referred for diagnostic semen analysis and one or more of your sperm parameters are reported below the WHO reference range your clinician may request you repeat the test. This is to ensure your results are representative of a typical ejaculate.

What if I have a poor result?

Discovering you have an abnormal sperm result may come as a shock and leave you feeling anxious. We have counsellors and patient support groups available at our Liverpool and Knutsford centres if you would like to discuss your feelings relating to this diagnosis.

You should always bear in mind that advances in fertility treatment mean that you may still be able to conceive. You can discuss your options and next steps with your clinician.

I have had a vasectomy but you have found sperm. Does this mean it hasn’t worked?

If you have not ejaculated 20 times or it has not been 12 weeks since the operation you may be asked to repeat the test at a later date. You may also be asked to repeat the test if there are any sperm seen in your sample.

The presence of sperm doesn’t necessarily mean your vasectomy has been unsuccessful since some sperm may remain in the vas deferens for a while after the operation. If invited, it is important that you attend your repeat test as it will help to confirm whether all remaining sperm have been cleared out of the vas deferens.

It is important to know that clearance is only given to patients when the clinician can be sure that they could not achieve a pregnancy. If you fail to attend your post-vasectomy semen analysis or discontinue the use of contraception, this could result in an unplanned pregnancy. You must continue to use an alternative form of contraception until you have been granted clearance by your surgeon.

Research and waste

The portion of your sample that is left over after diagnostic semen analysis is disposed of by incineration. It will not be stored for treatment purposes. In some cases, it may be used by us for training or research.

Queries

Please feel free to contact the laboratory on 0151 702 4214 if you require any further information about this test.

Will my appointment be affected by COVID-19?

Unless we have contacted you directly to cancel your appointment please attend as usual. Please do not attend if you are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 or you have been in contact with someone that has tested positive for COVID-19.

Quality

The Lewis-Jones Andrology Department at the Hewitt Fertility Centre has provided a dedicated Andrology service for over 10 years. We were the first Andrology laboratory to be accredited for quality and competence by the UK Accreditation Scheme (UKAS) to ISO 15189:2012.

Our laboratory is also enrolled in the UK National External Quality Assurance Scheme (UK NEQAS) which helps to ensure clinical laboratory test results are accurate, reliable and comparable wherever they are produced.

I am a GP or clinician and I would like to refer a patient to your services. How do I do this?

GPs and other clinicians please follow this link to find information on how to refer patients to our services.