Let’s start with the bright side – collecting your semen is way better than getting your blood drawn. Some might call the collection process the best part. And most guys would probably consider themselves a “subject matter expert” in semen collection based on decades of first-hand experience honing their craft.
But even if you’re summa cum laude in the field, there are a few things you might not know about semen tests. Whether you’re using Trak at home or getting a semen analysis at the doctor’s office, here are some tips to help you prepare and ensure your test accuracy:
Your testicles are constantly producing sperm. During an ejaculation, the sperm stored in your epididymis are shot out and fresh sperm come in. It takes 2-3 days to completely refill the epididymis. Testing too soon after an ejaculation will usually show a lower sperm count than your average.
So is it better to abstain longer? Thankfully, not really. Sperm only survive about 3 weeks inside the testicle. If you don’t ejaculate enough, your sperm cells start to die and break down. To get a good understanding of how healthy your sperm are, you really want to look at a fresh batch. In the week or two prior to a semen analysis, it is a good idea to “clean out the pipes” with more frequent ejaculations (high five for science!) Then, wait a few days to allow the epididymis to fill up with fresh sperm.
If you test again in the future, abstain the same amount of time before each test. Meaning, if you abstained from ejaculation three days for your first test, try to abstain three days before all of your tests. This will give you the most consistent readings over time.
No lube and no condoms. There’s a few reasons for this. First, lubricants and condoms typically contain spermicides intended to kill sperm, and thus will affect your results. Secondly, it’s important that your specimen be “pure” – lubricants and condoms could add unwanted residues, plastics, etc. that could interfere with the analysis. There are more “sperm-friendly” lubricants out there, but it’s still best to go dry (sorry).
Don’t use intercourse to collect your sample. Same reasons for no lube or condoms – you want a pure sample. Masturbation is best.
Sperm don’t live very long in a plastic cup. If you’re testing at a clinic, get your sample to the technician as soon as you can and be sure they know the time the sample was produced. If you’re using Trak at home, make sure you complete the test within 30-120 minutes of collection to ensure accurate results.
Studies have shown that men produce higher quality semen when they’re more aroused. Just think of it as Mother Nature at work. If you’re producing your sample at a clinic for a lab test, this can be a bit challenging but do your best. If you’re using Trak at home, just do what you normally do.
Keep the cup in reach and make sure you collect the whole thing (including the first drops). Studies show that most sperm live in those first few drops. So to be sure you get an accurate count, make sure that collection cup is within reach and you don’t miss the cup with any of your sample. If you do miss, you’ll need to wait another 2-7 days and test again.
Practice makes perfect. Go get ‘em guys. And as always, we’re here to help.