Now sperm can have a health check-up.

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Childless couples who have filed for years to start a family may benefit from a new test developed by doctors at Baylor College of Medicine Baylor College of Medicine is a private medical school located in Houston, Texas, USA on the grounds of the Texas Medical Center. It has been consistently rated the top medical school in Texas and among the best in the United States. in Houston.

Microsperm penetration assay (micro-SPA) is a modified version of the standard test that measures sperm quality in men with low sperm counts. "The micro-SPA is a valuable diagnostic tool for assessing the sperm's health," says Dr. Larry Lipshultz, a professor of urology at Baylor. "It is a reliable test that may help us better understand the man's role in infertility."

One out of six American couples are infertile in·fer·tile adj.Not capable of initiating, sustaining, or supporting reproduction.


adj unable to produce offspring. , many of whom have no history of reproductive disorders. In half of these cases, the problem is attributed to male infertility.

In the micro-SPA, hamster eggs are paired with the patient's sperm in a specially designed test tube. Results are based on the number of sperm that penetrates each egg. Dr. Lipshultz says that, unlike other routine fertility tests, the micro-SPA provides doctors with useful clues on sperm function. "For example, a semen analysis Semen Analysis Definition

Semen analysis evaluates a man's sperm and semen. It is done to discover cause for infertility and to confirm success of vasectomy. will only tell you the number and movement of sperm, but not if the sperm are capable of fertilization," he says.

Surgery or medication is usually the next step in improving sperm quality and its ability to travel from the testes testes
or testicles

Male reproductive organs (see reproductive system). Humans have two oval-shaped testes 1.5–2 in. (4–5 cm) long that produce sperm and androgens (mainly testosterone), contained in a sac (scrotum) behind the penis. to the egg. However, assisted reproductive techniques--such as placing sperm into the uterus-- can be an alternative if medical and surgical treatments are ineffective. Although these new treatments can be beneficial, they can be time-consuming and costly.

"The micro-SPA helps us determine if the sperm is capable of in vitro in vitro /in vi·tro/ (in ve´tro) [L.] within a glass; observable in a test tube; in an artificial environment.

in vi·tro adj.In an artificial environment outside a living organism. (in a test tube) fertilization," says Dr. Lipshultz. "Couples who take the micro-SPA before entering an in vitro fertilizationprogram may save themselves unnecessary anxiety, time and money." The SPA's predictions are fairly accurate, he says, although no fertility test is 100 percent successful. In many cases, it is just a matter of time.

"It takes some perfectly healthy young couples under age 30 six months to a year to get pregnant," he says. "If a man or woman has had surgery or injury to the reproductive tract or suspects a problem, they should get an early checkup from their urologist or gynecologist gynecologist /gy·ne·col·o·gist/ (-kol´ah-jist) a person skilled in gynecology.
gy·ne·col·o·gistn.A physician specializing in gynecology. , respectively."

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