Have you ever wondered why men are usually advised to provide a semen sample when they go through fertility testing? After all, it’s one of the most important prerequisites for assessing male reproductive health. A semen analysis is an essential first step in determining whether or not your body is capable of supporting pregnancy.
But what exactly does this test involve and how can understanding the results help you get on track to parenthood? In this post, we will give you a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about semen analysis so that you can understand its importance and use it to make informed decisions regarding your fertility journey.
What is Semen Analysis?
The health of a male sperm can be assessed with the help of a semen analysis test. Ejaculatory fluid, semen, comprises sperm, sugar, and protein.
A semen analysis considers the following three aspects of sperm quality:
- The percentage or number of sperm in semen
- Sperm’s shape
- Movement of sperm, i.e., “motility of sperm.”
In order to acquire an accurate picture of the sperm’s quality, doctors will often perform multiple tests on the sample. As the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) recommended, the tests should be spread out over two to three months and at least seven days apart from one another. Daily fluctuations in sperm counts are expected. The best conclusion can be drawn by averaging the sperm samples.
Why is Semen Analysis Used?
A semen analysis could be done to check a man’s health, fertility issues, and vasectomy.
Test for Male Infertility
When a couple has trouble getting pregnant, a male fertility test is typically offered as a possible solution. This test will assist the physician in determining whether or not a man is sterile. The examination will also aid in a sperm count test and dysfunctional sperm to blame for male infertility in the couple.
Follow-up Testing to Check Vasectomy Success
A semen analysis is performed on a male who has undergone vasectomy to ensure that there are no sperm in the semen. As a permanent way of birth control, a vasectomy is performed on a male.
In the process, the tubes that transport sperm from the testicles to the penis, are cut and sealed. These tubes are located inside the vas deferens.
It is common practice for medical professionals to suggest that, following a vasectomy, males undergo a monthly sperm analysis for three months to verify that sperm is no longer present in the semen.
How to Prepare for Semen Analysis?
Before providing your semen samples, you are required to follow some instructions. However, it is necessary to determine why you are getting semen analysis. The reason is that the instructions for getting ready for a semen analysis vary in cases of infertility purpose or a vasectomy.
How to Prepare for Semen Analysis for Infertility?
Your physician will provide instructions on what steps you need to take to get ready for the examination of your sperm. If you want reliable results, it is crucial to follow these directions strictly.
To obtain the most representative sample for infertility test:
- Ejaculating should be avoided between 24 and 72 hours before giving a semen sample.
- Two to five days before the test, you should abstain from consuming alcohol and caffeine and avoid drugs like cocaine and marijuana.
- Immediately discontinue using herbal remedies.
- You should avoid any medications that include hormones.
- Talk to your primary care physician about the medications you’re currently taking.
How to Prepare for Semen Analysis After Vasectomy?
- This test is performed at a predetermined time after a vasectomy, typically between 8 and 12 weeks later.
- After having your vasectomy, it is recommended that you masturbate multiple times. This helps remove sperm from your system and is beneficial overall.
- You might be able to donate a sample of your sperm at home and then bring it with you when you go to the laboratory.
How is Semen Analysis Performed?
A sample of the male reproductive fluid (sperm) is used for this testing. There are a variety of approaches to collecting the sample. Most doctors recommend having the patient ejaculate into a sterile container in a separate room.
Ejaculating into a condom devoid of additives or lubricants is another option for a self-collected sample. However, after ejaculation, the sample must be stored at room temperature until it can be transported to the lab.
The sample collection process could also involve other approaches. To boost blood flow to the penis and stimulate ejaculation, your doctor may use a vacuum device that is wrapped around your penis. When a patient has trouble ejaculating due to a spinal cord injury, a vibrator can help.
Due to possible quality differences, doctors may need two sperm samples from you within two weeks.
What do Doctors Look for in a Semen Analysis?
Within a few days, we should get the findings of the semen analysis.
Many aspects of sperm health are taken into account during analysis. Underneath, we talk about these causes and their effects.
Sperm Count Test
If there are problems with the number, mobility, or morphology of the sperm, a sperm analysis can help.
A sperm count is referred to the total number of sperm in 1 mL of a semen sample. As per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, a total sperm count normal range should be no less than 15 million per ml or 39 million spermatozoa per sample.
Having a sperm count that is significantly lower than that is a serious problem. Having an abnormal sperm count has been linked to up to 90% of male infertility cases, according to one study.
Typically, the only thing that can be tested for using a home sperm analysis kit is the total sperm count. Because this is just one facet of male fertility, men must undergo thorough sperm screening to rule out any underlying issues.
Motility of Sperm
Sperm motility refers to the sperm’s capacity for adequate movement. Sperm with low motility have more difficulty traveling through the female reproductive system and fertilizing the egg.
At least 50% of sperm in a normal sample will move about normally.
Shape and Color of sperm
The term “morphology” is used to describe the unique dimensions and contours of each sperm. The typical sperm has an elongated body and a round or oval head. Problems with sperm reaching, entering, and fertilizing the egg might occur if they are of an abnormal size or form. According to Asian Journal of Andrology, the minimum percentage of average, form-fitting sperm in normal semen is 4%.
Likewise, healthy sperm vs unhealthy sperm color is different. Healthy sperm semen is white or white-grey, whereas yellow color semen indicates medical problems.
The semen analysis test normal report shows a pH between 7.2 and 7.8. If the donor’s pH level is above 8.0, that may indicate infection. If the result is below 7.0, the test may be contaminated, or the guy may have clogged ejaculatory ducts.
Sperm volumes of more than 2 mL are considered typical. It’s possible that there aren’t enough sperm in the sample to fertilize an egg if the semen volume is low. A diluted sperm count could also result from an overabundance of fluid.
Semen usually liquefies between 15 and 30 minutes. Even while sperm have trouble swimming through thick semen, the fluid’s propensity to liquefy makes it so effective at fertilization. Fertility may be impaired if semen does not liquefy within 15 to 30 minutes.
What is a Semen Analysis Test Normal Report?
We have curated a table for normal results for a semen analysis.
|Factor Tested||Normal Result|
|Sperm Count||15 million spermatozoa per mL|
|Sperm Mobility||50% mobile spermatozoa|
|Sperm Shape||At least 4% sperms in a sample should be form-fitting|
|pH||7.2 – 7.8|
|Volume||> 2 mL|
|Liquefaction||Liquefies within 15 – 30 minutes|
Abnormal Results for Semen Analysis
Having problems swimming to and entering eggs; abnormal sperm can hinder pregnancy. Possible causes of abnormal outcomes include
- Hormone disbalance-related
- Diseases like diabetes
- Faulty genes,
- Radiation exposure.
Your doctor will likely recommend further testing if your results come back abnormal. They may include
- Genomic analysis
- Hormone analysis
- Testing for anti-sperm immune cells
- Urinalysis following ejaculation
- Testicular tissue sampling
For How Long Could Sperm be Stored?
It’s important to get your ejaculate sample to the lab quickly after collection, preferably within an hour. Sperm does not survive well in extreme temperatures or when removed from the body.
Can Anything Influence Sperm Count?
Lifestyle factors, other medical diseases, blocking of the transit of sperm, and genetic abnormalities impacting sperm production are the most common causes of abnormal semen analysis.
Is it Possible to Collect a Semen Sample at Home?
It is preferable to take a semen sample at a reproductive clinic without using lubricant; however, this is not always achievable. It may be possible to collect the sample from home if you are too nervous about ejaculating at the office. However, this will depend on the protocols of your reproductive clinic and how far you live from the facility.
A sperm count, motility, and sperm morphology can all be determined by doing a semen study in a lab. It might be a vasectomy success test or a fertility test for males. Samples must be provided in a sterile environment, and the directions must be followed carefully to ensure reliable findings.
When abnormal results are obtained, further examination is usually required. It is usual practice to take the test again after receiving the results or before proceeding with an evaluation.