A seminogram is the analysis of a sperm sample. It provides information about the quality of the sperm, as well as the number of spermatozoa and how healthy they are. This analysis is required in two common situations:
- To make sure the contraception method is efficient: vasectomy, hormonal method, and as part of the thermal contraception protocol.
- To monitor and cure infertility issues
Even though they are opposite, some men feel uncomfortable in both situations when it comes to collecting the sample. If most laboratories require the sample to be collected on-site, you may also do it at home or even analyse it using your own resources.
We’ll see here that the seminogram should not be an obstacle for anyone who wishes to get contracepted. There are various solutions, whose benefits and limits we will go through.
The drawbacks of collecting a sample in a laboratory
The reasons why some men are reluctant to collect their own sperm in a laboratory are easy to understand. It’s not only about dropping a little urine in a container or have a blood sample taken.
Collecting sperm in an unfamiliar and medical environment doesn’t exactly encourage arousal. Some men feel literally blocked. But to be able to put an ejaculate in a graduated plastic cup, you need to be in the right conditions, get an erection, keep it and masturbate until you ejaculate. Stress and pressure need to be left out.
Take pornographic magazines with you, load a short pornographic movie on your smartphone, ask you partner to come with you every time or fantasize about the nurses: thorse are the only masturbating tricks available to you if you want to have your seminogram done in a laboratory.
Seminogram: collect your sample at home
If some laboratories claim it is not possible to collect a sample at home, insist or pick a different lab. A good laboratory should inform you about the process and give you all the requirements.
Laboratories usually prefer to carry out the examination on-site because they then have greater control over 3 important criteria:
- - The temperature of the sample, which should not drop below 20°C;
- - The observance of the sampling protocol in strict hygiene conditions while limiting the loss risk of all or part of the ejaculate;
- - The delivery time, which should not exceed one hour as sperm is a living substance and quickly alters.
To collect your sample, you’ll need a sterile plastic container that you’ll get either at the laboratory or at the pharmacy. You can ask your doctor to add it to your prescription or you can buy it for just a few cents at the pharmacy.
Whether you're collecting your sample alone or with company, you must absolutely wash your hands and penis thoroughly before the sperm is extracted to avoid contamination of the container.
With a view to applying a contraception method or rather to conceiving a child, asking your partner to help is nothing to be ashamed of and is not inappropriate, quite the opposite. But you cannot force your partner to participate.
The main difficulty will be to maintain the sample at a temperature of, ideally, 37°C until you drop it off at the laboratory within an hour at the most. So don’t put it in the fridge under any circumstances! Keep it nice and warm in your briefs, under your armpits, between your thighs if you’re driving, in your wife’s cleavage or, more seriously, in a water bath within a bigger container.
Keeping it a room temperature of 20°C is actually enough. The time constraint is the main concern, because in order for the exam to be accurate, the sperm needs to be analysed as quickly as possible within one hour at the most between ejaculation and analysis.
In any case, it is advised to bring the sample to the laboratory within 30 minutes.
DIY - How to make your own Seminogram at home
If you so wish, you can also make this analysis yourself. A sperm count can be carried out with a very basic equipment on hand and notions of the work of a laboratory technician, especially for thermal contraception since it basically consists in counting the spermatozoa.
Please do keep in mind that a homemade seminogram can never replace the monitoring and analysis carried out in a laboratory. It will only have informative value, helping you improve your self-awareness and develop your DIY skills.
Local ARDECOM groups are hoping to set this up. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with them to learn how to make your own seminogram at home.
Click on the link to access the DIY guide to make your own seminogram, the Sperm@home.
Do a seminogram with your smartphone
Some researchers have developed a method to analyse sperm only using a smartphone. This interesting technology could make sperm analyses easier. Many projects to carry out infertility tests or post-vasectomy monitoring are under development worldwide, but it is the Harvard Medical School in Boston that seems to have the strongest project on every level. You can read its introduction in this paper on Science Translationnal Medecine: FERTILEX.
This application is succesfully developed for the follow-up of vasectomies, which require regular seminograms. The efficiency threshold for vasectomies is a concentration below 100,000 spermatozoa/ml. This means that if the process can be applied for vasectomies, it works when monitoring the efficiency of the thermal method, whose threshold is 1 million/ml.
Another option is available here. It is used in the context of post-vasectomy follow-up and is approved by the FDA in the USA. Its main benefit is to provide you with information regarding your sperm count. It doesn’t replace a seminograme done in a laboratory, it’s pretty expensive and not that easy to use. It’s worth exploring, but nothing can replace a seminogram in a laboratory as of yet.
Doing a seminogram should be a nice or at least neutral experience
This test is not easy to take for a guy. It brings up tricky subjects, such as modesty, their ability to be fertile, and as such, a notion of virility. Some men are ill-prepared or act under pressure to relieve or satisfy their wife, but haven’t taken the time to make the choice of having a seminogram done their own.
This is a matter of contraceptive consent, of involvement in the process, whether it’s done to induce sterility or get out of it... Having a seminogram done is an important step in a voluntary endeavour.
It is true, however, that it can be difficult for women to understand the lack of involvement of their men. When they themselves haven't felt supported in the medical process surrounding contraception or pregnancy that were sometimes more difficult to go through for them. Sexual equity is a painstaking work of patience, learning, talking... Humour and gentleness are powerful allies to downplay this medical exam and make it lighter than it seems.