Thursday, December 09, 2021

Why you shouldn't trust your semen analysis report

There are many problems which plague semen analysis today.

Even though it's such a simple and inexpensive test , the truth is that it's is usually done extremely badly .

This is true when it's done at the local lab, where the technician is untrained, and does not understand how to do the sperm test properly . He either uses outdated equipment , or takes short cuts because there is no quality control.

However, the real tragedy is that the reporting of semen analysis in IVF labs is extremely unreliable and untrustworthy.

The labs of most corporate IVF chains these days seem to be incentivised not to provide accurate and reliable reports,  but to maximize the number of patients who take treatment at the IVF clinic ! The semen analysis report is used as a tool to drive patients to do IVF, even if they don't really need it!

The commonest racket is that the IVF lab reports most semen samples as having teratozoospermia , without actually checking sperm morphology . Checking the shape of sperm is a complicated and expensive exercise , because the sperm need to be immobilized and stained , and the technician needs to check at least 100 sperm before making this diagnosis .

The commonest shortcut ( which many IVF clinics tell the technician to do ) is to record every sample as having teratozoospermia , and to report that there are less than 4% normal forms , without providing any documentation ( the images of the stained slide). This means it's possible for an IVF clinic lab to report anything they want , because there is no way of testing whether they have done the test properly !

Unfortunately , because there is no quality control or regulation , this diagnosis of male factor infertility because of teratozoospermia is becoming an epidemic . Many patients are labelled as having male factor infertility , and are advised to do an IVF treatment cycle , when the reality is that it is actually just an incorrect lab report .

Sadly, patients feel that it because the report is being done by a specialty IVF lab , it must be reliable , and they don't even realise that they are being taken for a ride.

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