Frequently Asked Questions

The quality of sperm is primarily assessed through a proper, reliable and complete Spermiogram. The Spermiogram is performed under certain conditions by experienced laboratory scientists and includes the following elements:

• Natural characteristics of sperm
• Basic quality and quantity sperm parameters
• Additional examinations (microbiologic control – biochemical factors)

In cases where the patient’s history provides relevant indications, the spermatological profile is completed by special tests regarding, e.g. oxidative stress, sperm DNA integrity, fertilising ability (acrosome reaction test etc.)

The causes of male sperm problems may have endogenous and/or exogenous origin.

Endogenous causes
In certain cases, sperm damage is due to testicular dysfunction or a pathological condition of the body that causes reduced sperm production (hormonal disorder, diabetes, cryptorchidism, varicocele, genetic predisposition). Such factors may affect men during fetal or early neonatal age.
In addition, old age has been associated with negative effects in sperm quality.

Exogenous causes
Various environmental factors are likely to be responsible for a number of sperm disorders. These include:
• Contact with harmful substances that pollute the atmosphere, water, soil and the food chain (e.g. PCBs, insecticides, pesticides)
• Exposure to high temperatures
• Obesity
• Daily habits, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive exercise, long hours of mobile phone close to the testicles
• The use of substances (anabolic steroids, drugs, strong medication etc.)

Avoiding daily habits that are connected to spermatoxic effects may contribute to the protection of sperm. The strengthening of the body with substances that shield general health, particularly in cases where nutrition is deficient, might also contribute to this purpose. In general, it is good for men, in reproductive phase, to:
• Quit or at least reduce smoking – nicotine reduces the antioxidant action of seminal fluid
• Reduce excessive alcohol consumption– alcohol has toxic effect on spermatogenesis
• Have frequent intercourse with their partner (approximately every 2-3 days) – the frequency of ejaculation contributes to the renewal of sperm and the secretion of non “aged’ spermatozoa
• Wear comfortable underwear and avoid hot baths – high temperatures suspend spermatogenesis
• Avoid exposure to chemical substances (herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals) and radiation in their working environment – they are all inhibiting factors to spermatogenesis

Considering the adverse environmental conditions of modern lifestyle, a gesture of prudence and foresight on behalf of all young men regarding the protection and preservation of their fertility, would be FREEZING and CRYOPRESERVATION OF SPERM.

For further information, you may contact the personnel of our Laboratory during working days and hours.

The sperm examination is applied, when assessing male fertility, to:

  • Men who make conception efforts – when no conception has been achieved following 12 months of continuous intercourse without contraception
  • Men with aggravated medical history – inflammation, hematospermia, cryptorchidism, orchitis due to parotitis, varicocele, injury or testicular twist
  • Men who are affected by aggravating factors – during work or following strong treatment (e.g. anticancer treatment)
  • Men who want to have the quality of their sperm assessed as a precaution, and to ensure their future reproduction ability

• Men who make conception efforts – when no conception has been achieved following 12 months of continuous intercourse without contraception
• Men with aggravated medical history – inflammation, hematospermia, cryptorchidism, orchitis due to parotitis, varicocele, testicular injury or torsion
• Men who are affected by aggravating factors – during work or following strong treatment (e.g. anti-cancer treatment)
• Men who want to have the quality of their sperm assessed as a precaution, and to ensure their future reproductive ability

Precautionary examination to every 18-22-year old man may be important for the future, since early detection of a possible problem allows more efficient treatment.

In addition, sperm cryopreservation for future use is a gesture of prudence, since modern living conditions are particularly aggravating.

The reliability of sperm analysis is based on following specific rules throughout the whole procedure, including:
The preparation of the examined person
The sample collection
The conduction of examinations
The recording of the results
The delivery of results to the examined person

A necessary prerequisite for the proper implementation of all the above steps, is the application of a strict Quality Assurance System by the Laboratory that conducts the examination.

Collection instructions:

Abstinence from ejaculation for 2-7 days, ideally 2-4 precisely. Any period shorter or longer than that may affect the result.
The most advisable way of sampling is masturbation. It is also possible to use a special condom without the spermicidal substances of common condoms. For further details contact the Laboratory.
Thorough genital and hand washing with abundant water, so as not to leave any soap residues.
Collection, with good erection, of the entire sample with particular attention to the first drops that contain the best fraction of ejaculation.
If collection takes place outside the Laboratory, the sample must be transferred preferably within 45 minutes (no more than 1 hour) while kept in body temperature.

Attention:

If fever or a serious health condition has occurred recently, please consult your doctor before proceeding to the sperm examination. It is advisable to avoid examination until sufficient time has elapsed (around 2.5-3 months) to avoid any negative effect on the results.

If fever or a serious health condition has occurred recently, please consult your doctor before proceeding to the sperm examination. It is advisable to avoid examination until sufficient time has elapsed (around 2.5-3 months) to avoid any negative effect on the results.

The new reference values for the basic sperm parameters, based on data of the World Health Organisation (2010), are the following:

Parameters Reference Value
Sperm Volume 1,5 ml
Spermatozoa concentration (number of spermatozoa per volume unit) 15.000.000/ml
Total number of spermatozoa per ejaculation 39.000.000
Propulsive mobility of spermatozoa (fast + slow)) 32 %
Typical forms of spermatozoa (“normal” morphology) based on the strict assessment criteria as per Tygerberg 4%
Vitality (living spermatozoa) 58%

A sperm is considered to be normal when the values of the parameters are above such thresholds, without certainty as to the fertility of the sperm. On the contrary, a sperm with parameters below the thresholds is not necessarily considered to be unable for fertilization.

Such thresholds have been established based on international studies on men who have achieved normal pregnancy within one year of intercourse without contraception. Therefore, they constitute a guideline for the assessment of increased or reduced possibilities of pregnancy by men whose spermiogram is above or below the specific thresholds.

The fertilisation potential depends on various factors and is assessed based on the spermiogram and further specialized laboratory examinations, clinical history and gynaecological profile.