Post Coital Test (PCT) Lab Test

Post Coital Test (PCT)
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What is Post Coital Test?

Coital means everything related or connected to sexual intercourse and is derived from the Latin word “coitus” which means sexual union. Now that the coital meaning is understood let us move on to knowing more about post coital test or PCT as it is referred to. Also known as the Huhner test, PCT evaluates the interaction between sperm and cervical mucus which is essential to conceive a child.

The post-coital test is often recommended as a part of the assessment when a couple has problems in conceiving a baby. The PCT is an age-old test and is considered redundant by many doctors since many other modern tests are now available with more accurate results.

Why is PCT done?

PCT is generally carried out to eliminate any cervical-related abnormalities if the female partner is unable to conceive. Doctors suggest the post coital test after it has been established through other tests that the female is ovulating well and the semen analysis of the male is normal.

Important factors to be considered for a Post Coital Test:

The timing of the PCT is most vital. The test, if conducted much before ovulation or too late after ovulation isn’t considered valid.

  • PCT has to be done within 24 hours of ovulation
  • The post-coital test will be considered valid if it is done within 4-6 hours of sexual intercourse.
  • It is important to have sex when you are ovulating, or the test may be considered invalid.
  • 113-day abstinence from sexual intercourse is required before the test

Steps during a PCT

During the postcoital test, a physical examination of the female partner using a speculum is carried out. A tiny amount of cervical mucus is then taken from the cervix and sent for testing. The pelvic examination done does not cause any kind of problems to the female. A PCT is often carried out in conjunction with a pelvic ultrasound to make sure that the test is being carried out at the time of ovulation. The cervical mucus is then carefully examined under a microscope to assess the quality of the cervical mucus along with the sperm quantity and its motility. The post coital test cost can vary from city to city or even lab to lab, but an average of 250-350 rupees can be expected.

How is a Post Coital Test report evaluated?

The reports received after the test are evaluated as follows:

The report is considered normal if

  • Quality of cervical mucus is normal
  • Sperm motility is within desired levels
  • The sample shows normal amounts of sperm

The PCT report is considered abnormal if

  • Non-mobile sperms are seen in the sample
  • No sperm or insufficient quantity of sperm is seen
  • Cervical mucus quantity is less, viscous and thick

What is Post-Coital Bleeding?

Any kind of spotting or bleeding that isn’t connected to menstruation and occurs during or post sexual intercourse is known as postcoital bleeding. Post-coital bleeding can occur in women of all ages. Bleeding can happen through the cervix, labia, urethra or the uterus. There could be many post-coital bleeding causes, and a few are listed below:

  • Infections caused due to tissue inflammation in the vagina
  • GSM- Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause
  • Vaginal Dryness
  • Polyps
  • Vaginal Tearing
  • Cervical or Vaginal Cancer

Depending upon the doctor’s evaluation after a PAP smear test or vaginal cultures, the post-coital bleeding treatment will be suggested.

Conclusion

Post Coital Test or PCT proves to be a guideline for the doctor to evaluate the inability of a female to conceive and does not involve any elaborate procedures. If the doctor does not find the post coital test results conclusive, other tests or therapy may be needed.

References

  1. http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(16)34686-6/pdf
  2. http://www.choosingwisely.org/clinician-lists/american-society-reproductive-medicine-postcoital-test-to-evaluate-infertility/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1248657
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115385/
  5. http://www.ajog.org/article/0002-9378(90)90969-E/fulltext
  6. http://www.nice.org.uk/donotdo/the-routine-use-of-post-coital-testing-of-cervical-mucus-in-the-investigation-of-fertility-problems-is-not-recommended-because-it-has-no-predictive-value-on-pregnancy-rate