It is important to understand that men presenting to a fertility clinic need to be given specific instructions as to how to collect a semen sample. Of primordial importance is the fact that a single semen sample is never enough, does not complete the picture, and at least two samples should be asked for three weeks apart if the first sample is abnormal. Also semen concentration is notoriously variable over time as seen in the image given below!
Norms to be followed for sample collection
- Abstinence period of 2-7 days to be observed.
- Same period of abstinence to be followed if 2 samples are given at different times.
- Clean wide mouthed container to be used, preferentially from the lab.
- Make sure containers don’t have residual chemicals.
- Collection may be done by masturbation without the use of lubricants
- Coitus Interrupts (engaging in intercourse and pulling out before semen leakage) may be tried, however, not advisable as the initial part of ejaculate may be lost
- Special condoms may be used for sperm collection during intercourse without any spermicidal agents
- If semen is collected at home, then the sample with the container should be held close to the body, notably in the shirt pocket.
- The sample should reach the lab under two hours
- The container should be labeled with the patients name, date, time of collection and also the abstinence period.
Hope this blog sheds some light on a simple procedure albeit susceptible to errors galore!