Semen Analysis

The male sperm is an essential part of human reproduction.  In order for conception to happen, the sperm must swim hard, penetrate the egg and transport the genetic material.

What is a semen analysis?
A semen analysis helps determine if a man needs treatment for infertility issues.  If you and your partner have been trying for at least a year, especially if the woman is over age 35, a semen analysis is recommended to determine if there is male factor infertility. Your doctor will be able to determine the best treatment option for you based on your semen analysis.

How does a semen analysis work?
Prior to the semen analysis, men should avoid ejaculating for 2-3 days before their appointment. If the sample is being taken at home, be sure you catch all of it and store in a sterile container.  The analysis must be completed within two hours of collection, so bring to your doctor as soon as possible.  If the sample is being taken at the doctor’s office, they will take you to a private, secluded room to help you relax. If your doctor needs more than one sample, the next collection may be done at a lab, especially if you’re covered through your insurance for this treatment.

Most couples prefer the semen analysis at the fertility clinic, even if it’s more expensive.  Fertility centers often have a masturbatorim room where the man can give his sample.

Reading the Lab Report
The semen analysis will report results on the following:

  • Volume: Normal volume ranges from 1.5-5.0 milliliters (approximately a teaspoon). Low volume may be a sign of an obstruction in the ejaculatory ducts. Retrograde ejaculation in which the semen goes into the bladder instead of out of the body sometimes causes low volume.
  • Semen content: Researchers are learning more about the human body by analyzing the content and makeup of semen. Whatever is found in this test, your doctor may request more to determine any other health problems related to the findings.
  • Sperm count:  Sperm count is the number of sperm in the sample. Typically, one could expect between 70-80 million sperm/mL.  Men with low sperm count still have a good chance of getting pregnant if the sperm are “good quality”. Overall, your doctor can help diagnose your infertility with a sperm count and hopefully give you a treatment to help you conceive.
  • Sperm motility:  Motility is how well the sperm swims to get through the eggs, traveling through the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. Sperm motility normally occurs when 50% of the sperm are moving. A lab technician will check speed, quality, and if the sperm swim in a straight line.
  • Sperm morphology (shape): Sperm shape can usually help determine healthy sperm. If it is misshaped for any reason, it may indicate it was exposed to toxins or infection.

The Final Analysis
The results of man’s semen analysis can be related to their medical history, physical exam, etc. Allowing your doctor to analyze and suggest treatment options will help boost your chances of conceiving. Sometimes the treatment is to just go home and have unprotected sex. Other cases may require fertility drugs to help fertilize the egg.  Regardless of the treatment prescribed, your doctor will ensure you as the male partner will be able to have your own genetic children.