I am 23 years old. My wife and I would like to know whether I am sterile. I have heard that I could have a spermogram done. Can you explain what a spermogram entails? Is the procedure 100% reliable? I would prefer that the medical team treating me not know the results. What do you suggest?
A spermogram is simply the analysis of semen obtained by masturbation after two or three days of abstinence. The liquid collected in a tube must be kept at body temperature and brought to a laboratory within the hour. The semen is studied under a microscope; the spermatozoa are counted, and their shape and mobility are checked.
More than 95% of men with cystic fibrosis are sterile. For these men, the problem lies in the ducts that normally carry spermatozoa from the testicles (where they are produced) to the urethra. In men with cystic fibrosis, the ducts are either defective or absent. Their sterility is therefore related to the problem in transporting the spermatozoa.
In men with cystic fibrosis, the spermogram will often show a total absence of spermatozoa. In these cases, the test is 100% reliable in diagnosing infertility. As for confidentiality, any doctor can prescribe a spermogram, but this test is not available in all hospitals. I believe it would be helpful, however, for the physician treating you at the cystic fibrosis clinic be informed of the results. Fertility tests are often a very sensitive issue. Whatever the results of your test, you may benefit from the additional support of someone at the cystic fibrosis clinic.