- In This Feature
- How Do You Obtain a Sample?
- How Are Samples Analyzed?
- What Other Sperm Tests Are Available?
- What Can Cause Abnormal Sperm Counts?
- What Treatment Options Are Available?
- What Is a Urologist Evaluation?
- How Does the Infertility Evaluation Proceed?
- When to Test His Fertility
- What Happens if We Still Have Trouble Conceiving?
How Are Samples Analyzed?
Semen analysis results can vary from clinic to clinic. In a laboratory that does not really specialize in evaluating semen samples, you'd be likely to receive the following report.
Clinical Lab - Community Hospital, Any City
Patient Name: ___________________
There is nothing wrong with this type of analysis, and often for a first test, this is fine. If it is perfectly normal, it is probably reliable, but this information is obviously limited. If there is any question about the normalcy of the results from this type of laboratory, a second test should be done by a laboratory that can do a more detailed analysis.
A laboratory that specializes in evaluating sperm samples will provide far more information and detail in its semen analysis. Measurements they would be likely to analyze include the following (with explanation):
- Coagulum present: The ejaculate normally coagulates into a jellylike blob within a few minutes of ejaculation.
- Liquefied in: The coagulum should begin to break down and liquefy within 30 to 60 minutes of ejaculation.
- Volume: Two to four cc's is normal. Larger or smaller volumes may present a problem in getting enough sperm to the cervix either because there is not enough seminal fluid to protect the sperm in the vagina or because the sperm present are diluted in too large a volume.
- Viscosity: This is a measure of the overall stickiness of the sample.
- Motility: This is the measure of the rate at which the sperm move. Good sperm motility is vital to their ability to fertilize an egg. Only sperm with rapid progression can reach and fertilize an egg. Sperm may also be slowly progressive (moving, but not moving well, or moving in very erratic patterns), non-progressive (alive and shaking, literally, but not moving), and immotile (alive but not moving at all). Some distinction about grade of motility is important and sometimes missing from more cursory evaluations.
- Viability: The percentage that are alive regardless of their motility.
- Agglutination and aggregation: Measures of the extent to which the sperm are stuck to each other or stuck to material within the ejaculate.
- pH: The pH of the seminal fluid must be within the range of 7.2 to 8.0 to protect the sperm from the very acidic environment of the vagina until they can reach the cervix.
- Sperm concentration: The number of sperm present in one cc.
- Total count: The sperm concentration multiplied by the volume.