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What Is a Male Fertility Test?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A male fertility test is used to assess a man's ability to father a child. There are many tests a doctor can order for this purpose, but most of them are intended to evaluate a man's sperm in some way. For example, a male fertility test may evaluate a man's sperm count, or it might measure the sperm's ability to move as it should and swim through the female reproductive tract to fertilize an egg. These types of tests can also evaluate the sperm's appearance, such as whether or not the man's sperm is shaped as it should be and of a normal size. Though these tests are commonly performed when a couple is having trouble conceiving a child, it is important to note that the chances of conceiving are affected by a wide range of factors.

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One important male fertility test is referred to as a sperm count and is used to count the number of sperm in a single milliliter of semen. In most cases, 20 million sperm per milliliter is considered normal. If less than this number of sperm is present in a man's semen, he has a low sperm count and a reduced chance of fathering a child. If a man's sperm count is low but close to normal, he may still have at least some chance of helping to father a child. If, on the other hand, his sperm count is very close to zero, his chances of becoming a father may be next to none.

Sperm motility is also analyzed in male fertility testing. Motility is the ability of a man's sperm to wriggle and swim about in order to reach an egg and fertilize it. Many labs consider a man fertile if at least 40 percent of his sperm are moving. With fewer motile sperm, a man may still have a chance of fathering a child, but impregnating a woman may take much longer and prove much more difficult.

The quality of a man's sperm can also be tested in a male fertility test. Sperm that are of a normal shape, which is oval with a lengthy tail, have the best chance of successfully fertilizing an egg. Sperm that are abnormally shaped and smaller or larger than usual are less likely to lead to pregnancy; if they do result in a fertilized egg, however, the female partner's risk of miscarriage may be heightened.

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