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What Does a Semen Analysis Look For?

Posted on December 1, 2016

One of the first steps taken for any patient of the Fertility Center of California (FCC) is a semen analysis. If a fertility issue is suspected for any reason, a semen analysis is conducted to evaluate sperm quality.

Sperm counts can vary significantly between one submission and another, so two or three semen analyses are typically conducted in order to make a final diagnosis. Patients should keep in mind that they will need to abstain from ejaculation for two to five days before the screening.

What will a semen analysis tell me?

A semen analysis will essentially test for the quality and quantity of sperm, but it also screens for other properties which all impact sperm quality:

  • Volume: 1.5 mL to 5.0 mL
  • Concentration (number of sperm present per mL of ejaculate): greater than 20 million/mL
  • Motility (percentage of sperm moving): 50 percent or more
  • Forward progression (how straight the sperm travels): score of 2 or more out of 4
  • Morphology (percentage of normally shaped sperm): 30 percent or more by WHO criteria, or 14 percent or more by stricter Kruger criteria
  • Clumping: minimal
  • Presence of white or red blood cells: minimal
  • No hyper viscosity (thickening of seminal fluid)
  • White blood cells less than 1x106/mL

What if my semen analysis results are poor?

Individual results from a semen analysis will determine your provider’s recommendations on future family planning goals. For some men, the quantity and quality of their semen may not be viable for natural conception or with assisted reproductive technology (ART). In this event, a sperm donor can be used.

The decision to use a sperm donor can be difficult and deeply personal. The Fertility Center of California has worked with countless couples who’ve faced a male infertility diagnosis and turned to our sperm donor program to have a baby. Finding a qualified sperm donor through a database means that you will have no connection to the sperm donor and you will not know who he is. You can also choose to work with a known sperm donor, such as a close friend or family member. Start your free sperm donor search today!

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