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Seminogram & Spermatogenesis
The seminogram: a tool to control male thermal contraception
To practice Male Thermal Contraception (MTC), you will need to do regular seminograms. That is, sperm samples tested in a laboratory. Seminograms are used to analyse the quality of the sperm by counting the number of spermatozoa in the semen. Under a predefined threshold, you are considered sterile (or contracepted).
Traditionally, seminograms are used to diagnose infertility and redirect couples towards appropriate medically-assisted procreation techniques. However, men who wish to control their fertility have more recently started using this method as well.
How can I make sure I am contracepted?
The seminogram is the only clinical exam that will let you know for sure that you are contracepted. There is no other way to confirm this.
Seminograms are prescribed by your general practitioner. This prescription allows you to have your seminogram done in a specialized laboratory. In France, it is 100% reimbursed.
It takes about 10 days to get your results.
Once the laboratory has checked your sample, your GP gets the results at the same time as you do. He will get in touch with you if necessary and will help you interpret the results if you need guidance.
How can I interpret the results of a seminogram?
To be able to read a seminogram, you have to check the sperm count per millilitre. The infertility threshold is set at < 15 million/ml (WHO 2010 standards). The contraception threshold is 15 times lower. In order to be contracepted, a man’s seminogram must indicate a sperm count lower than 1 million/ml (WHO 2010 standards).
To sum things up:
- infertility threshold: less than 15 million spermatozoa per ml of sperm
- contraceptive threshold: less than 1 million spermatozoa per ml of sperm
Unlike other methods, all contraceptive approaches acting upstream of ejaculation are regularly controlled with seminograms. This means that the efficiency and reversibility of such methods are highly scrutinized and allow us to place even more confidence in these alternatives rendered invisible even though they are official.
Where can I get my seminograms done?
Not all laboratories offer seminograms. Your usual laboratory may however send your sperm sample to a qualified laboratory.
Click on the image to access the map and find the closest laboratory to your location.
It is easier to find qualified laboratories in bigger cities such as Toulouse, Grenoble, Paris, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Nantes, Nîmes, Le Mans, Rouen, Reims or Amiens. Some clinics and hospitals specialized in medically-assisted procreation also provide such analysis.
Here is a map referencing identified clinics and hospitals in FRANCE, BELGIUM and LUXEMBURG. It is not exhaustive and is meant to be collaborative. If some information call for revision, please e-mail us at email@example.com.
Alternatively, get in touch with ARDECOM, they can also guide you in choosing a laboratory.
Call the laboratory ahead to make an appointment and know how to proceed
It is advised to call the laboratory before collecting a sample. This allows you to know how to get ready and make sure you laboratory is familiar with this kind of analysis.
In any case, it is better to make an appointment and to bring a medical prescription along.
For standard samples, it is advised to abstain from sexual intercourse or masturbating for 3 to 5 days before sampling. For contraceptive samples, check this information with your laboratory.
If you so wish, you can make the analysis yourself. Basic equipment and knowledge of laboratory practices allow you to do sperm counts at home.
But keep in mind that a homemade seminogram will never replace the analysis and follow-up offered by laboratories. Its value will only be informative and it will only allow you to have a better understanding of your body and DIY methods.
Local ARDECOM groups are considering putting this development into practice. Don't hesitate to get in touch with them to find out how to do a seminogram at home.
Click on the following link to access a guide on how to do your own seminogram, called Sperm@home.
I also dig a bit deeper into the subject in this blog post.
Understanding spermatogenesis in order to have better control over your contraception
Using Andro-switch can help you have a better understanding of your spermatogenesis and allow you to notice any changes. This information can prove highly valuable if you ever need to discuss your contraception with a healthcare provider. Improving your understanding of spermatogenesis and of the male thermal contraception (MTC) protocol will help you improve your observance of said protocol, thus reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancies due to incorrect use and/or understanding of the method.
Keep in mind that spermatogenesis (the making of spermatozoa) is one of the most complex processes of the human body. It starts with puberty and continues on for a man’s whole life.
How often do I need to have a seminogram done?
The results you get with each analysis reflect your spermatogenesis for the last 3 months. Which is why you will need to have one done regularly within this time frame.
What’s a sperm morphology analysis?
What’s the difference between a seminogram and a sperm morphology analysis? While a seminogram tends to measure the density of spermatozoa, a sperm morphology analysis is about the morphology of the male gametes: shape, abnormal heads or tails...
For contraceptive purposes, the seminogram is the only relevant analysis.
How much does a seminogram cost?
Both the seminogram and the sperm morphology analysis are basic tests designed to assess male infertility. The scrutinized parts are both macroscopic (volume, viscosity, pH...) and microscopic (sperm count, motility, shape, etc.). A seminogram costs about € 30 but it is 100% reimbursed through social security in France if you have a prescription.
How is a seminogram conducted?
A seminogram is comprised of two main steps: collection and analysis of the ejaculate.
Many men are concerned about the process of providing sperm to the laboratory. Most laboratories prefer to collect the sperm directly on their premises in order to be able to guarantee the quality of the sperm between collection and analysis. In a room intended for this purpose, the patient must masturbate and collect his sperm in a vial that will then either be sampled on site or quickly redirected to a qualified laboratory.
If you’d like to collect your sperm at home, negotiate conditions that will allow you to do so with your laboratory.
What’s a normal seminogram?
A seminogram consists in the analysis of a set of parameters. In the case of male thermal contraception, only a microscopic characteristic is analysed: the number of spermatozoa.
If the sperm count falls under 20 million spermatozoa per millilitre of sperm, it’s called oligozoospermia. This quantity cannot guarantee fertility. Azoospermia refers to a total lack of spermatozoa. For thermal contraception purposes, what we’re aiming for is a situation that falls between oligozoospermia and azoospermia.
Other microscopic characteristics are analysed in a seminogram: the shape and motility of the spermatozoa. Such information can help diagnose asthenozoospermia, teratozoospermia or even oligo-astheno-teratozoospermia They are of particular interest to men who have seminograms done in a bid to boost their fertility levels.
Laboratories also conduct macroscopic analyses, checking semen volume (2 to 6 millilitres), pH (higher than 7, rather basic) and viscosity. Such data can point to problems in the prostate gland or the seminal vesicles.
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