Embarrassing Questions

Got Embarrassing Questions about Fertility Treatment? TFC has Answers!

Understanding infertility treatment will take a lot of your energy. The tests, procedures, and schedules require a great deal of juggling to keep the details straight. During this process, you will likely have questions. Our physicians and staff members are here to provide answers and explain anything that seems confusing or unclear. We understand, though, that some questions may feel difficult to discuss. Review the following section to find the answers you need.

Embarrassing Fertility Questions

  1. Is it okay to obtain a sperm specimen with oral sex?
  2. Is it better to abstain for long periods of time to get a “good specimen?”
  3. What if my husband has a nocturnal emission on the night before egg retrieval or IUI?
  4. How many days of abstinence prior to sperm collection for the egg retrieval are optimal?
  5. How do I know when to worry about vaginal secretions when there are many types of vaginal discharge?
  6. I had an abortion when I was younger, but my partner does not know. Is this a really important part of my medical history that I should tell my physician?
  7. It is prohibited in my culture for a male to masturbate. Is there another way to collect a specimen?
  8. My partner has difficulty collecting through masturbation. Can we have intercourse to collect the specimen before I have my retrieval?
  9. Is it okay to have sex during pregnancy?
  10. I have been told to abstain from intercourse after I become pregnant until my sonogram, but is oral sex okay?
  11. Is it okay to have an orgasm?
  12. Can I use lubricant for a specimen collection?
  13. If I think I may have a problem collecting the specimen, who should I tell and when?
  14. I had an orgasm while I was asleep. Will this cause a miscarriage or harm my baby?

1. Is it okay to obtain a sperm specimen with oral sex?

Collecting a specimen through oral sex poses several problems. The most significant one is that the specimen can be contaminated with bacteria from saliva. This can potentially result in an infection or impairment of the sperm function. The best method of collection for a sperm sample is with masturbation.

2. Is it better to abstain for long periods of time to get a “good specimen?”

For most men who have had a normal semen analysis, the optimal abstinence time is two to three days. This means that the male should not wait longer than three days between ejaculations nor less than two days between ejaculations. Longer periods of abstinence may be recommended if there are significant issues with semen volume or sperm count, but in most cases, longer periods of abstinence lead to a higher percentage of non-mobile or dead sperm.

3. What if my husband has a nocturnal emission on the night before egg retrieval or IUI?

Some things are just unavoidable. If this occurs, it will not change the recommendation of achieving a fresh specimen for the following morning.

4. How many days of abstinence prior to sperm collection for the egg retrieval are optimal?

As stated before, with normal semen parameters, two to three days of abstinence is recommended. However, for all men undergoing evaluation and treatment at Austin IVF, the embryologist will have previously made a recommendation on optimal days of abstinence based on their evaluation of semen specimen. As you approach the date of egg retrieval it is important to ask your physician for the recommended time of abstinence.

5. How do I know when to worry about vaginal secretions when there are many types of vaginal discharge?

With the many hormonal changes that women undergo during the course of fertility treatment, this can be a confusing situation. It is not uncommon to have a heavier vaginal discharge due to the hormones. The character of the discharge should be similar to normal, but more abundant. A vaginal discharge that has a foul odor or is thick and associated with significant discomfort or itching should be evaluated by your physician.

6. I had an abortion when I was younger, but my partner does not know. Is this a really important part of my medical history that I should tell my physician?

Absolutely. One of the most significant prognostic factors for a woman becoming pregnant is whether or not she has ever previously achieved pregnancy. This is information that can be shared with your physician in confidence without concern that your partner will be notified, but it is extremely important information for your physician to have.

7. It is prohibited in my culture for a male to masturbate. Is there another way to collect a specimen?

Although masturbation is the preferred method of collection, for some men this is not morally acceptable or achievable. In this situation, you should ask your physician for a special collection condom that is not made of a material that is toxic to sperm and that does not have spermicide as part of the composition of the condom. Once the specimen is collected in the sperm collection device, it can be poured into the collection cup and taken to the andrology laboratory like any other specimen.

8. My partner has difficulty collecting through masturbation. Can we have intercourse to collect the specimen before I have my retrieval?

The best method of collection is through masturbation. If there is a concern that this will not be possible on the day of egg retrieval, there are two potential options. One would be to have your partner attempt to collect a specimen at a time days or weeks prior to the day of egg retrieval for cryopreservation as a backup in case he is unable to collect a specimen on the day of your retrieval. The other option is to collect the specimen prior to arrival at the Fertility Surgery Center using a sperm collection device with intercourse and to bring the specimen in when you arrive for your procedure.

9. Is it okay to have sex during pregnancy?

Absolutely. Typically for pregnancies achieved through in vitro fertilization, your physician will recommend abstinence until the time of heartbeat determination. As long as there are no concerns with the viability of the pregnancy and you are not experiencing abnormal bleeding or significant cramping, intercourse should be fine throughout the duration of your pregnancy.

10. I have been told to abstain from intercourse after I become pregnant until my sonogram, but is oral sex okay?

In most cases, oral sex is not prohibited during early pregnancy. You should be encouraged to discuss this with your physician if you have any questions about your particular situation.

11. Is it okay to have an orgasm?

Yes.

12. Can I use lubricant for a specimen collection?

Specific lubricants are allowed for specimen collection. These need to be compounds that will not interfere with sperm function or motility. Our office can provide you with an approved lubricant. If necessary, your partner is allowed to use a small amount of mineral or vegetable oil, which will not interfere with the specimen.

13. If I think I may have a problem collecting the specimen, who should I tell and when?

This is a very common issue and it is far more preferable to be aware of this potential situation before the day of egg retrieval. You should feel free to share this information with your physician, one of the IVF nurses, or one of the embryologists. The sooner that the laboratory is made aware of this, the better. The embryologist will make arrangements for you to collect a specimen prior to the day of egg retrieval with cryopreservation as a backup in case production of the specimen on retrieval day is not possible.

14. I had an orgasm while I was asleep. Will this cause a miscarriage or harm my baby?

No. Orgasms are associated with normal uterine contractions and will not cause a pregnancy loss or harm your baby in any way.