At least two samples (separated by a minimum of 1 week) are essential for diagnostic accuracy. The patient must be provided within clean (ideally sterile), wide-necked, dry, additive-free containers for specimen collection. Appropriate instructions must also be provided with regard to—

1. Length of abstinence: 2-3 days is ideal. A shorter period may result in abnormally lowered sperm counts, while a longer period of abstinence may result in a higher proportion of poorly motile sperms.

2. Site of sample production: providing the patient does not live more than 45 minutes away from the laboratory, the sample may be produced at home.

3. Time of semen production: samples produced and delivered in the morning allow maximal time for analytical tests.

4. Method of sample production: usually performed by masturbation but patient may chose to use coitus interruptus (risk of semen spillage) or non-toxic silastic condoms. Ordinary condoms contain rubber and spermicides which obliterate sperm motility.

5. Transport of sample: maintaining the sample at body temperature is ideal and excessive heating or cooling must be avoided.

Artifacts may arise due to—

• Low volume due to loss of semen due to spillage

• Contaminants (e.g., dust, fluff, soap, spermicidal crystals)

• Temperature variations (e.g., sunlight exposure or cooling in the fridge)

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Dealing With Erectile Dysfunction

Whether you call it erectile dysfunction, ED, impotence, or any number of slang terms, erection problems are something many men have to face during the course of their lifetimes.

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