The Semen Analysis (The ‘take-out’ option) – A Guys guide to IF – part 5

If you are a guy, and you and your partner are infertile, you will be experiencing the bitter-sweet joy of a semen analysis some time or other. There’s no escaping it. You can cry like a little girl, moan and whinge all you like, there is no avoiding it…you will be required to jerk off into a sterile container, and hand it over to someone in a lab coat.

For many guys, this will be the sum total of their required involvement in the infertility-to-pregnancy process. Other guys end up having to provide their sample in a more painful and uncomfortable way – via sperm extraction or aspiration. But (fortunately or unfortunately – depending on your viewpoint) I can’t tell you anything about this first hand…and selfishly hope never to gain the experience through intimate personal experience! The idea of a scalpel within 2 metres of my testicles results in me magically obtaining a second pair of tonsils – there’s some automatic and unconscious bodily reaction that results from the mention of ‘scalpel’ and ‘testicles’ in the same sentence… without any conscious thought on my part, my testicles retract up into my body at the speed of light with an accompanying shlurping sound (like a testicular sonic boom)! If I ever need to undergo one of these procedures, they’re going to have to hatch a cunning plan… like they used to do on The A Team when they had to get B.A. on an airplane… they’re going to have to find a way of administering the sedatives long before I get anywhere near the vicinity of the clinic, without me being even aware of it… otherwise the doc is going to have to go in via my mouth to find my testicles for the extraction!

But SA’s I can tell you about… been there, done that… a good few times!

In that time, I’ve discovered some very important tips and advice for guys and SA’s…hope you find them useful. Obviously, by the very nature of this subject matter, the information and wisdom I am about to depart is graphic. It’s way way too much information for anyone other than a guy anticipating a TWOS (The Walk Of Shame – what I lovingly named the SA experience after the first couple of times I had to walk anywhere with my no-longer-sterile container transporting my hot-of-the-press sample). It’s so far over the line that it’s practically back at the line again – it’s circumnavigated good taste and passed over-share a while back…but, it’s the kind of subject that guys may need some help with – I’m no clinically trained expert (although I may get many credits for recognition of prior learning and experience)…it’s what I’ve discovered and it’s what I absolutely know without a shadow of a doubt, no-one else is ever going to tell you…so pull your chair closer, glance over your shoulder to make sure no-one’s watching and don’t bother taking notes – you don’t ever want someone to see notes on this subject in your own handwriting!

The first thing to know about an SA is that there is absolutely no way, no hope, not even a smidgen of a chance that you will retain your dignity during the experience…it’s a non starter. So, get over it and move on. Try have some fun with it…you may not succeed, but it’ll make life a little easier if you do.

The advice I have for you is broken down into two main groups, depending on your chosen delivery plan…are you ‘eating in’, or is it strictly ‘take-out’ for you. My first ever SA was ordered by my GP a while back, before we were referred to the FS. The pathology lab the GP used was 5 minutes drive from home, so the logical choice was a ‘take-out’ option…you know, ‘provide the sample’ at home and then deliver it to the lab. This only works if you’re within half an hour of the lab and can keep the sample at body temperature while transporting. Because all of my remaining SA’s were being managed by our FS clinic, and they’re an hour away, they were all using the ‘eating in’ approach.

There’s too much to cover in one section, so I’ll share my pearls of wisdom in two parts. Today I’ll start off with the ‘take-out’ option (or ‘home delivery’ if you want to refer to it in a suitably ‘pregnancy/birth’ kinda way). I’ll cover the do’s and don’t’s of “eating in” in another post.

Here’s what I learned during my only take-out SA…It’s a damn site more comfortable masturbating at home.

It’s nothing you haven’t done a million times before, it’s nothing new, its old hat. There’s a certain comfort level with this option, but there are some catches (literally) – Normally, (assuming you’re a bathroom wanker) you don’t have to worry too much about accuracy…it’s like an AMRAAM or Slammer Missile – it’s strictly fire and forget. So, the first difference is that you have to aim…and if you’re one of those guys whose wife is still telling you to sit down when peeing, you know your accuracy isn’t great at the best of times, never mind when your eyeballs are rolling around in your head! So, that’s the first complication. The second complication is that for the first time in the 8 years you’ve been married (in fact it’ll probably be the first time since your third date), your wife will want to ‘help’. This sounded like a great idea at the time…but let me make a suggestion…unless your wife can shake a ketchup bottle for 8 minutes flat without tiring, needing to swap hands, or sticking her tongue out and screwing her face up like she’s undergoing open-heart surgery without anaesthetics, it’s not going to work…because even if you’re normally a ‘three strokes and you’re out’ kinda guy, this time it’s gonna take a little longer…the pressure will affect your performance…so you’re gonna want to take matters in your own hands, you need to go with the most efficient, most experienced campaigner – you don’t play the world cup finals and leave Ronaldo on the bench!

So, if she offers, I suggest one of two approaches…The first option (and by far the better one) is to fob her off by giving her something else to do. My suggestion is to make her responsible for minimising potential transportation delays. Tell her you need her to have the car running out on the road – like the get-away driver in a movie bank heist, revving the car, ready for you to dive into the back seat at speed with the loot safely tucked under your arm, her flooring the accelerator before you’ve even closed your door, screeching away in a cloud of tyre smoke.

The second option is for her to play a strictly hands-off part…like a virtual fluffer…inspiration without the interference. It’s up to you whether this should be a speaking role, or whether this should be a purely walk-on part – depending on your own preferences of course. There is however, a certain risk with this option…she may well be performing a credible re-enactment of your favourite scenes from Striptease or 9½ Weeks, but there is a downside…and it comes in the form of a predatory glint in her eye. She may be parading around in her sexiest lingerie, she may be doing the ‘When Harry met Sally’ thing, but, there will still be that look in her eye, the kind of pent-up excitement and anticipation that makes you feel like the goat staked out to attract the lions…the kind of look that’s going to put you off your stroke as you glance around nervously…and, at the critical moment, you’ll be awed by her moving at superhuman speed to investigate your deposit, before you’re even aware it’s done. She’ll grab that little container out of your sweaty little hands and peer at it with great intensity, before (although this could have just been my experience) saying something like “is that it…?”

The look of disappointment will take you back to your first failed test at school, or, if your memory is particularly good, the time your potty training let you down in pre-school – the disappointed disapproving look, the arched eyebrow, the little shake of the head while making tutting sounds, and finally the pursed lips as she looks at you with that ‘is that the best you can do…did you really try your hardest…you really should put more effort in’ look. That look. The one that has your lips quivering and your puppy dog eyes watering in shame. And you’ll lay there wondering if you did put your all into it, did you try your hardest, have you let the team down, please let her give you another try, you’ll do better next time. And while you’re still vulnerable, feeling completely inadequate, she’ll be shooing you along to get dressed so that you can take your miserable half-arsed sample to the lab…if it’s even worth it.

So, flying solo is best – less pressure, fewer distractions, and no judgement! Keep her involvement to a strictly ‘logistical support’ role.

But, when all’s said and done, it’s a lot easier at home. It’s a breeze, little or no fuss (unless you didn’t succeed in keeping your missus out of the room).

That is until you get to the lab and the pretty receptionist will ask you to hand over your sample. Which you do. She’ll ask you to fill out the lab form that’s written in a font size so small that you need an electron microscope to read it. But you avoid squinting at all costs – they warned you at school that doing THAT would make you blind…and the pretty receptionist knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’ve just done THAT! If you even suggest a squint she’s gonna know that you slap more salami than the owner of the local italian deli.

Then she smiles sweetly at you and asks you when the sample was produced…it was at this time that I had the overwhelming temptation to stick out my hand and say something like…”very very recently. Feel, my palm is still warm”.

I had this horrible vision when rushing my first and only ‘take-out’ sample through to the lab, of being involved in a car accident en route…and the paramedics attending me at the scene wondering why I was covered in sperm, of my insurance company refusing to pay out because I was obviously involved in some obscene act at the time of the accident.

As comfortable as home delivery is, I’m not a fan of this approach. Maybe it’s because our issue is Male Factor Infertility. I want to rule out every potential cause for there being little or no sperm…and if time and temperature fluctuations can have an effect, I’m opting for producing my samples in the little room next door to the lab…literally only a few meters between it seeing the light of day, and it being stuck in the incubator…no time wasting, no temperature fluctuations, no delay = no risk. I don’t want the time delay as I negotiate the rush hour traffic or the road works to have an impact on my SA scorecard. I want the minimum delay, the minimum risk…hell I’d deliver my sample straight onto the microscope slide right in the lab if it would make a difference!

So, now we come to the graphic hints and suggestions…this is strictly x-rated and you should be over 25 years of age before reading this (and ideally be a guy struggling with infertility and not be someone I’ll ever meet and need to make eye contact with). Here are a few things I’ve learnt…

  • Your missus helping may not always be a help. Somewhere on this journey, I heard a story of a woman handing in her husband’s sample and being asked if she assisted in a certain way…because apparently saliva is not good for sperm and they need to take that into account. I’m not sure how true this is – I think this is typical female propaganda…I’ve always believed that saliva is very good for sperm, it’s certainly very good for sperm extraction…but in the pursuit of the best SA result possible (especially if you have reason to believe you’re borderline), it’s a no-no… Some woman have hostile cervical mucus, it attacks those little swimmers like it’s clubbing seals, so, unless you’ve ruled that out, you may need to limit ‘assistance’ even further…Which pretty much leaves the helping hand…and unless your significant other is well practised, that’s probably counter-productive too. So, you’re left with nothing else other than the visual aid approach…but like I’ve said, be warned that this could also have it’s down-sides, unless you like the idea of having your sample critically evaluated just micro-seconds after you’ve produced it.
  • Other visual aids can be a handful. Avoid magazines with the folding pull-out centre-fold – between your joystick and the sterile container, your hands are going to be pretty full already – and you definitely don’t want spillage! It’s going to require herculean levels of concentration to get your aim right and worrying about a 5 page spread could have potentially devastating results – imagine telling your missus you’re going to have to try again in a couple of days time because you missed the target while trying to turn the page…it’ll go down like a french kiss at a family reunion…not good. On the plus side, if your missus would normally frown disapprovingly at you having a porno mag in the home, now’s your chance to get one and browse it openly without her giving you a hard time…you are after all only doing it because you have to…it’s not like you want to read it…you’re taking one for the team, you’re being thorough and dedicated to the cause, you’re leaving no stone unturned in your pursuit of a good SA result – well done you.
  • Take the lid off the sterile container before-hand. This should be self-explanatory, but would hate for you to be ill prepared…I don’t think the clinic will be chuffed if the sample is all over the container instead of inside the container.
  • Ambidextrous is the ticket. If you’re not very coordinated, the juggling act with the sterile container can lead to some hairy moments. Missing the target or dropping the container is the absolute worst possible outcome – you need to avoid this at all costs! If your one hand has a reputation for dropping things, knocking things over or just generally being useless, now’s the time to put it to use. Practise masturbating with your off hand – you’ll want to use the best hand for holding the container, both during capture and afterwards, and swapping hands is a big risk – don’t do it. Not until you’ve got that lid screwed on nice and tight! Obviously, if you’re a big fan of internet porn, you’ve been visiting a lot of those left-hand websites, so you’ve already perfected ambidextrous multitasking, but remember that a mouse and a sterile container are different! Furiously double-clicking your sterile container is probably only going to result in you dropping it at the crucial moment!
  • Gravity is your friend. Do the five knuckle shuffle standing up – it makes getting everything into the little container a helluva lot easier. Let gravity work for you, rather than having to fight it. It makes aiming a lot easier! And it takes variable velocity out of the aiming equation!
  • Being a whole man has its advantages. If you haven’t been circumcised, you have a few more options. You don’t have to stand up to safely deliver your sample, because you have your own in-built stop-cock. Grip the tip of your foreskin tight at the critical moment, and nothing will escape…this allows you time to retrieve your container and perform a controlled release at your leisure.
  • Get the truth straight from your specialist. Don’t let your other half relay the information…she lies! It was only recently, when I asked him, that our specialist informed me that I should be ejaculating A LOT up to 48 hours before the sample is required. He actually said “lots of sex or ejaculating”, but I knew what that would translate into without needing to even look in my missus’s direction. He said in my case (and I’m assuming that this is probably true for many MFI cases), the optimal is a lot of action up till 48 hours before, then abstinence till the actual sample is delivered. In the past, my missus convinced me that I needed to abstain for longer periods before the sample…cruel and unusual punishment I thought! So don’t trust her…ask the specialist yourself…and if at all possible, get it in writing (unless the news is bad and he wants to inflict longer periods of abstinence…then contact me and I’ll get my specialist to email you a ‘second opinion’ saying lots of sex and 48 hours abstinence max).

So, in summary, it might seem onerous, but there is a lot to recommend the ‘take-out’ option semen analysis…because, ‘eating in’ has its own rather large draw backs…and I’ll tell you what they are next time.


~ by HopelesslyTTC on 17/08/2010.

8 Responses to “The Semen Analysis (The ‘take-out’ option) – A Guys guide to IF – part 5”

  1. Really enjoyed this series! So funny and so true. How I do NOT envy you guys for having to go through this.

  2. I’m a fertile woman in the process of becoming a surrogate. Even though I’m not your target audiance, I want to say that your posts have really opened my eyes! People that haven’t experianced infertility first hand have NO idea how difficult it is on all parties. Thank you for writing so openly about your experiances from a mans point of view.

    • Hi Charms,
      thanks for your kind words. I think that’s life really – no-one know’s what battles others are facing and how it affects them – I was absolutely clueless as to the issues faced by disabled people until I spent two weeks looking after someone with cerebral palsy…that opened my eyes…and its the same with infertility, cancer, being ginger, having halitosis…no-one else understands what you’re going through unless they’ve been through it…I sometimes think people don’t appreciate this fact.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, but more importantly, thank you for the amazing thing you are doing for the infertile couple you are assisting – it truly is an incredible gift you are giving them.

  3. Would like to have told you what a wonderful piece this was, but seems I wasn’t so supposed to read most of it – so I didn’t! Yeah right, curiosity might kill the cat, not me!
    As always, excellently written.
    Despite what you said I think that maybe the take out option is “easier” for a 1st time SA – just a liitle less intimidating doing it at home than in a strange room.

  4. Excellent !

  5. Bwhahahahahaha!

    At least you never experienced having a wife who stands at the door of the bathroom asking you to wank a little faster like someone else I know who did that to her hubby… or like my poor hubby who had to listen to a labrador and a jack russel snuffling at the door wondering what that smell was that was coming from under the crack… 😉 yep take out is not for the faint hearted!

    I can’t wait to read out “eating in”


  6. […] Anyway, for any OHs that are having trouble going in for their SA, have them read this:…-to-if-part-5/ I think it takes the scariness away from the process to know that other guys really are doing it […]

  7. […] I hope he goes in for his SA very soon!! Have him read this:…-to-if-part-5/ It might help him feel more comfortable and normal!! AFM, well, I haven't gotten my period yet, […]

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