Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle - Collection and Delivery of Samples for Infertility Semen Analysis (Updated April 2023)


What is the test for?

An infertility semen analysis is a test to look at the total number of sperm in an ejaculate (the count), how the sperm swim and in which direction (motility test) and their size and shape (morphology analysis).


When do I need to collect my sample

Your GP or clinic will ask you to produce a semen sample for analysis. You will be given a toxicity tested sample container and a pathology request form to take to the laboratory. Please make sure you take the request form with your sample otherwise the laboratory cannot accept it. If you have mislaid the sample container you will need to either collect a replacement from your GP surgery/clinic or the histology department (within Pathology) at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle. If you have mislaid your request form you must contact the GP surgery/clinic for a replacement.


Collect your semen sample after a minimum of 48 hours, but no longer than 7days of sexual abstinence. You will need to declare on the request form or the patient declaration form your period of abstinence.

You will need to make an appointment to drop off your sample or if you need to produce your sample on-site.

Please contact the labatrory on 01228 814209 to make an appointment.

How to collect the sample

The sample should be produced by masturbation and ejaculated directly into the plastic container provided for you by your GP or clinic.

Samples produced by the withdrawal method are unsuitable for analysis.

Do not collect the sample into a condom. The laboratory cannot examine ejaculates in condoms as this will affect the results of the test.


The total sample should be collected. If the total sample is not collected please state this on the laboratory request form, or complete a declaration form at Pathology Reception. The department will determine whether they will accept the sample dependent upon sample volume

Screw the lid onto the container tightly so that the specimen does not leak. The laboratory cannot accept leaking samples.

Ensure that the container is labelled with your full name and date of birth. Write the date and time of passing the sample onto the container. The laboratory cannot accept unlabelled or incorrectly labelled samples.

Ensure the pathology request form has your name (in full), date of birth, NHS number, address and postcode and your GP/clinic details. Add the date and time of collection onto the pathology request form. The laboratory will not accept samples without a pathology request form.


Deliver the sample to the laboratory within 1 hour of collection. If you cannot deliver the sample within 1 hour, a clinic room is available to enable you to pass the sample at the Cumberland Infirmary. This room is available by appointment only. Please contact the laboratory on 01228 814209 to make an appointment.

If you are delivering the sample in person, keep the sample warm (20- 40º) and protect from extreme temperatures. Carrying it in an inside pocket of your jacket will keep it in good condition.


Where to take the sample

The laboratory reception is located on the lower ground floor of the Cumberland Infirmary. Hand in your sample and request form directly to the receptionist. You will be asked to complete an abstinence form.


On-site production on Monday afternoon - by appointment only

Appointments for drop-off samples are: Tuesday and Wednesday - by appointment only                                 


Rejection of samples

Your sample will be rejected if:

  • We cannot match the sample pot and request form
  • The sample is leaking
  • Your sample has been collected into a container unsuitable for analysis
  • There is no request form with the sample
  • The request form does not meet the minimum acceptance criteria, full name, date of birth and NHS number.
  • If your sample is incomplete – we must know that the complete sample has been collected as sperm may have been present in the lost part of the sample but this is dependent upon volume

When will you get your results?

Your results will be reported to your GP/clinic. Please allow at least 2 weeks before contacting the surgery for your results. Laboratory staff are not permitted to give results to patients. If you are anxious please contact your GP or clinic.


Your assurance of quality

The laboratory participates in a National External Quality Assessment Scheme and will address any poor performance issues if they arise.