Computerized Semen Tests
It has become an established fact that 50% of infertility issues rest with the male in the equation. For many years it was thought that all fertility problems were the responsibility of the woman - but research and years of study confirm what most already knew. Thankfully, men are becoming more open to fertility testing, although it does remain an embarrassing situation and one that sometimes is a blow to a man's sense of himself.
Moving Forward in Fertility
Male fertility tests, also known as semen tests or sperm tests have come a long way in recent years. For many years testing remained virtually unchanged. Semen was evaluated by a laboratory technician looking through a microscope and manually counting sperm. The decision as to which sperm were fast moving, which had medium velocity, and which were moving slowly was arbitrary, based upon the particular technician's opinion. The parameters were few and results could vary greatly between tests.
Today many fertility clinics use sophisticated electronic imaging systems to see the sperm and equally sophisticated software programs to evaluate dozens of parameters for the semen. These tests are known as CAST or computerized semen test. A computerized semen test provides a much larger number of parameters than manual semen testing, supplying more useful information to the fertility specialist.
Determining Motility Objectively
Sperm motility analysis determines the number of sperm that are moving rapidly in a progressively forward manner. This information is vital to the evaluation of male fertility. With a computerized test, the computer tracks and identifies every sperm visible in the microscopic field in a fraction of a second. A high level of accurate information about how fast the sperm are moving is now in the hands of the specialist.
Fine Tuning Criteria
The test for morphology, the appearance of the sperm, is another aspect of semen testing that is made more effective and easier with the use of computerized semen testing. In the past, a variety of criteria have been used to distinguish normal from abnormal sperm, and the criteria that were established by the World Health Organization were once the benchmark. However, it has been discovered that the WHO criteria was not good for distinguishing fertile men from infertile men.
As a result of the inaccuracies, a different criterion is used to determine shape and size of sperm, called Strict Morphology, or Kruger morphology. The former manual method of determining morphology was, again, subjective and was dependent upon the lab technician. The computerized method measures the size and shapes of individual sperm objectively, ensuring results are consistent no matter who performs the testing.
With the advancement of technology, semen testing has advanced and treatment for male infertility has also become more effective.