Entry #8: Test, Test, Test!
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
No, this post is not in any way related to the current global situation. This post is about the various medical tests you may/will be required to have carried out at some point on your journey. I am in no way an expert on all of these. However, as I am currently in the process of requesting some of these tests (hopefully on the NHS), I felt it was important to do a bit of research in advance of these.
So here goes...
This is a test which your GP can arrange for you. You will be asked to abstain from sexual activity for a few days. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that for testing and analysis, semen samples should be collected after a minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 7 days of sexual abstinence.
Once you have done your 'business' into the (not so little) plastic cup, the sample should be returned within an hour for accurate results. The sample of semen is analysed to check the quality and quantity of the sperm and the results are usually available within a week.
The test will check a host of different factors, including, sperm concentration, sperm motility, sperm morphology, and sperm vitality.
Sperm concentration is also known as sperm count. This is done under a microscope, with the normal range of 14-16 million sperm per ml of semen.
Sperm motility is used to grade sperm on their ability to move properly through the female reproductive tract (or through water) to reach the egg. This is very much a factor in successful conception; sperm that do not 'swim' properly will not reach the egg in order to achieve fertilisation.
Morphology refers to the shape of sperm. This test will look at the shape of the sperm head and the size of the sperm. The head shape is important because it affects the sperm’s ability to dissolve the outer surface of an egg and fertilise it.
This is the amount of live sperm. 50% live sperm or more is considered normal. If the results are not as expected, it is not always a cause to worry.
It is important to note that, whatever your results may be, the quality of your sperm can usually be improved by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. This could include stopping smoking, reducing the amount of alcohol you drink and taking vitamin supplements.
Mixed Agglutination Reaction (MAR) or Antisperm Antibody (ASA) Test
MAR, also known as mixed antiglobulin reaction, is a test that is used to diagnose immunological infertility, which means that anti-sperm antibodies are present that prevent conception from taking place. Anti-sperm antibodies can be produced by the immune system in response to trauma or inflammatory processes. These antibodies are picked up by the MAR test and can indicate a cause of secondary infertility.
Sexual Health Checks
Some clinics will require that sexual health checks have taken place before treatments can take place. Your clinic should be able to arrange these. Alternatively, to save yourself some money, you can request this from your GP or even your local GUM (Sexual Health) clinic. The test might involve a urine sample and a blood sample.
For more information on these, I strongly suggest you check out the NHS website.
The method of surrogacy you choose will influence how many sexual health checks you will require. If you are considering straight surrogacy you will need to carry out a sexual health check prior to joining an organisation and once again prior to insemination. If you choose host surrogacy, a six-month quarantine period of your sperm or created embryos may be required prior to transferring embryos to your Surrogate. Once again, sexual health tests usually have to be performed before and after the quarantine period.
I do hope you have found this entry useful. Good luck on your journey and in the meantime, you can still raise your profile while waiting for tests to be carried out.
Until next time, keeping the Dad dream alive!
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