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Frequently Asked Questions About Semen Analysis

Posted on October 1, 2020

While infertility is often discussed as being a female reproductive issue, male factor infertility plays a role in about half of all cases. As such, couples who have been trying to conceive for a long time without any success often turn to semen analysis testing to determine whether there are any issues with the male’s fertility. Here are some common questions that patients have about the exam.

1. What does a semen analysis test for?

A semen analysis determines the overall health of a semen sample by measuring sperm count, morphology (shape), and motility (movement).

2. What is considered a “normal” result for semen analysis?

For a semen analysis, the WHO defines a healthy sample as having:

  • A concentration of 15 million sperm per ml of ejaculate

  • An ejaculate volume of at least 1.5 ml

  • At least 4% normally shaped sperm

  • At least 40% moving sperm

  • Minimal clumping of the sperm cells

  • A normal viscosity (thickness of the semen)

3. Are there different types of semen analysis tests?

Different types of semen analysis tests exist for different reasons. A complete semen analysis, for example, is the first step towards determining if there is any male infertility, whereas a partial semen analysis will be used after a vasectomy to determine whether the procedure has been successful. There is also retrograde semen analysis, which is used in cases where the enjaculate backs up into the bladder rather than exiting through the penis. This can happen as a result of a nerve injury or other medical complications. For spinal cord injuries there are also a variety of techniques to help in acquiring a semen sample depending on the severity of the injury. Please feel free to contact our office for more questions on this matter.

4. How is the sperm analysis test conducted?

The patient provides his doctor with a semen sample, which can be prepared through masturbation, sex followed by pulling out and ejaculating into a container (please remove this section--we don’t recommend this), or sex using a specially designed collection condom. If the patient is unable to produce a sample through these methods, there are a wide variety of sperm retrieval techniques available.

Once the sample has been provided, the semen will be tested in a laboratory for the aforementioned qualities.

5. How do I prepare for a sperm analysis?

In order to yield the most accurate results, it’s important that patients take proper preparations before making the sample. These precautions include:

  • Avoiding ejaculation for two to five days prior to the test

  • Avoiding any medications that may negatively impact the results, as instructed by your doctor

  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and drugs for at least two days before the test

  • Being properly hydrated (semen has a high water content, which can negatively influence the viscosity if not hydrated well enough)

6. Should I get a semen analysis?

If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for a while but haven’t been successful, a semen analysis can help determine if there is sperm dysfunction of some kind. To learn more about semen analysis and male fertility or to schedule an appointment in the San Diego area, contact the Fertility Center of California today.

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