Postcoital Test (PCT)
Definition - What does Postcoital Test (PCT) mean?
A postcoital test involves examining a sample of cervical mucus in a woman a few hours after performing vaginal intercourse with a partner to evaluate the nature and quality of the mucus and its interactions with sperm. A postcoital test is usually performed close to the estimated date of ovulation during which the cervical mucus is most suitable for achieving pregnancy. A postcoital test can detect abnormalities of mucus that stops sperm cells from swimming toward the eggs, or the presence of antisperm antibodies that hinder the ability of sperm to swim and function normally, both of which can ultimately lead to infertility.
There is an ongoing debate about the usefulness of this test in the evaluation of infertility and more evidence is emerging that states that it is not an effective test. For this reason, the postcoital test is largely being replaced with newer more advanced fertility tests and procedures.
A postcoital test is also known as Sims test, Huhner test or Sims-Huhner test.
FertilitySmarts explains Postcoital Test (PCT)
Cervical mucus changes in amount and consistency during the menstrual cycle as a response to variations in hormone levels in the body, mainly estrogen and progesterone. It becomes watery and thin around the time the release of the egg to facilitate the passage of sperm to fertilize the egg and during other parts of the cycle it is thick and works to block the entrance of sperm into the uterus.
A normal postcoital test shows that the mucus is watery and thin and stretches at least 2 inches, allowing a sufficient number of sperm cells to move forwards through the mucus. Abnormally thick mucus that does not stretch may indicate that the cause of infertility is likely to be due to the poor quality of cervical mucus. Dead or immobile sperm is likely to suggest the presence of antisperm antibodies in cervical mucus.
The test may not give information of much significance if it is performed outside the dates of ovulation, or in the presence of an infection in the cervix.