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Fertility problems affect both men and women. As many as two out of every five couples with fertility problems require treatment of both spouses, and in 25 percent of the couples their fertility problem rests with the husband alone.

Fertility diagnosis and treatment is lengthy, time consuming and expensive. The process can frequently be eased and shortened by both partners working together with their fertility physicians from the beginning.

In addition to the tests done on a woman, it is often necessary to perform a semen analysis to be sure a husband has sufficient normally functioning sperm for fertilization to occur.

Human conception is a difficult and complex process, even under the best conditions. Normally functioning sperm will ultimately complete the path to fertilization. This means first breaking through cervical mucus, traveling up the length of the uterus and entering the fallopian tube. Once in the fallopian tube, sperm must meet an egg, penetrate the eggs protective coating and inner membrane, and finally, fertilize the egg. Then, and only then, has fertilization occurred. To increase a couple's chances for conception it may be necessary for the husband to undergo special sperm studies.

Sometimes a semen condition will not respond to medical treatment. In these circumstances, it may be possible to treat the sperm in the laboratory in an attempt to enhance fertilization. More information about these tests is available from your physician.

In order to obtain an optimal semen specimen, the husband may be requested to refrain from ejaculation for at least 48 hours prior to providing a specimen. DO NOT ABSTAIN for longer than 5 to 7 days, as the quality of sperm decreases with prolonged storage in the body. A private room is provided near the Reproductive Assays Laboratory for the collection of semen specimens. The wife may accompany her husband if he wishes.

Many factors affect the quality of sperm produced by an individual at any given time. These factors include items such as: unusual stress, fever, certain medications, or any injury to the testicles. Therefore, the husband will be asked to complete a brief reproductive history as well as note any temporary conditions which may affect sperm quality. When making an appointment for semen analysis, please inform us if there has been a fever or illness within the last three months as this may affect the specimen.

If the wife's ovulatory cycle is being monitored for purposes of follicular maturation studies, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization or gamete intrafallopian transfer, the physician's office should be alerted if any conditions occur which may affect sperm quality, such as illness or extreme stress. This will enable the physician to evaluate the condition for potential adverse effects upon the husband's sperm production at the time of his wife's ovulation. During ovulation, one or more "fresh" semen specimens may be needed to increase chances of conception.

The entire GRS staff has had special training in fertility problems. Please feel free to ask questions at any time, as we all want to help you in working with your physician.

Since fertility problems affect the couple, we want to remind you that husbands are welcome, and encouraged to attend all consultations and appointments with their wives.