What's normal?

Have you ever tried to understand a sperm analysis form?

The one I looked over yesterday before seeing the doctor was a pastiche of Latin medical terms, percentages and figures down to three or four decimal points. Finally, at the very bottom, I found the word “normal”, and heaved a little sigh of relief. One thing cancelled out, a million more to go.

But it was not to be that easy. Once in my doctor’s office, going through the form line by line, I discovered (I took notes) that of the 22m sperm collected in the sample, 15 per cent moved rapidly, 30 per cent moved slowly, 35 per cent just kind of jiggled about aimlessly and 20 per cent were dead. Which broke down to about 9.9m extremely determined sperm, and the rest not so much. This was a normal sample, the doctor said, but it was on the “low” side of normal.

I could theoretically get pregnant, but his shoulder shrug seemed to suggest it would be touch and go.

So what to do? We are off to give another sample at a different laboratory, just to check that the result is indeed representative. And if so, then Rufus will have to go see a urologist, and possibly after that they might “wash” his sperm and inseminate me.

Washing means basically picking out the very best sperm, according to google, wikipedia and all of those other websites doctors hate so much.

Meanwhile, I am off to have a bunch of blood tests (blech) next week to check various things – more Latin names. I HATE blood tests. The last and only time I gave blood I fainted, legs in the air.

I was worried Rufus might be upset to hear about the “low side of normal” finding, so I made sure I mentioned how visibly impressed the doctor had been with the volume of the sample. But I need not have worried, he was not thrilled to have to give another sample, but ultimately he was much more concerned about the three days’ abstinence required beforehand. We’ll get around that by going straight from the airport to the laboratory when he comes back on Saturday – the silver lining in his travels.


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