What Is Semen Collection?

Anna B. Smith

Semen collection is the process of extracting semen from animals and humans for analyzation and to achieve conception by artificial means. Semen is the thick, white fluid that is ejaculated from the male penis at the culmination of sexual arousal. It contains the sperm that are necessary to fertilize a female egg and begin the reproduction cycle. There are a variety of methods available for completing this process, the choice of which largely depends upon the person or animal providing the sample.

A sperm cell.
A sperm cell.

Human sperm is often collected for analysis when a couple is having difficulty conceiving a child. A sample is used to determine how many sperm are present, how they move, and their general shape. Infertility may be a result of a low sperm count, sperm that are slow moving, or sperm that are misshapen and unable to adequately penetrate the female egg. Collected sperm may also be used to fertilize an egg outside of the womb before implanting it in the uterus in cases of female infertility.

Semen is produced in the testes, which are contained in the scrotum.
Semen is produced in the testes, which are contained in the scrotum.

Human semen collection typically occurs through manual stimulation, coitus interruptus, or intercourse using a specially designed condom. Manual stimulation, also referred to as masturbation, can occur in the privacy of the home or in a doctor's office, and is usually performed into a collection unit. Coitus interruptus involves pulling the penis out during intercourse at home and ejaculating instead into a collection unit. Specially designed condoms are often available from a doctor's office or for purchase online, and may be used for collection purposes and worn during intercourse at home. In rare cases in which a man is unable to ejaculate due to an injury, a procedure known as electroejaculation may be performed by a doctor while the patient is under anesthesia.

Animal semen collection is a common practice amongst professional breeders and livestock farmers. Male and female animals are typically mated based on the quality of their physical characteristics, such as coat color, stance, and height. Semen may be collected and frozen prior to sale and shipment, so that it may introduced to the female animal at a later date.

The three primary methods used for the semen collection of animals are an artificial vagina, electroejaculation, and digital manipulation. The artificial vagina consists of a rubber cone, which the male animal mounts, that is attached to a plastic collection tube. During electroejaculation, low voltage electric pulses are conducted to the pelvic region of a male animal while it is anesthetized until ejaculation has been achieved. This method is commonly used for animals which are incapable of mounting due to a degenerative skeletal disease or spinal cord injury. Digital manipulation involves massaging the penis or vas deferens of the male animal by a veterinarian or trained breeder and slipping a collection apparatus over the penis just prior to ejaculation.

Artificial insemination is often useful to same-sex couples who want a baby.
Artificial insemination is often useful to same-sex couples who want a baby.

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