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Sperm Analysis

Why have a sperm analysis?

Sperm is the key to conception from the side of the male partner. For this reason, a sperm analysis is the test required to determine the male's fertility.

Some men find it emotionally trying to have a sperm analysis. As there are no symptoms or early indicators of male factor infertility - low sperm count, poor morphology, low or no motility - waiting for the results can prove to be unnerving.

Despite this fact, a sperm test is painless and, if a problem is found, it can save a woman months of unnecessary testing. It is highly recommended that the man have a sperm analysis as part of the original infertility testing process (infertility workup).

Once the results are received, an additional task is to understand them.

How do you prepare for a sperm analysis and how is it done?

Your doctor will usually recommend that you abstain from sexual activity (including masturbation) for at least 2 days before having a sperm analysis. Sperm concentration is affected by sexual activity, so, in order to provide a good sample, it's best to wait.

The lab (or your doctor) provides a cup into which the man ejaculates. Sometimes this can be done at home and sometimes it needs to be done closer to the lab. Sperm samples should arrive at the lab within an hour.

A few tips:

  • Be sure hands and penis are cleaned prior to collection.
  • Don't use any lubricant, including saliva
  • Don't collect the specimen in a condom, unless the laboratory has provided you with a special semen collection condom
  • Don't touch the inside of the cup
  • If any semen spills, don't transfer it to the cup

What do the results of the semen analysis mean?

The results give a fairly good indication as to the status of a man's fertility. The normal values appear in the table below.

If one or more parameters of the results is not within the normal, it is recommended to repeat the test several weeks later.

Sperm is continually produced in the testes. Its production is affected by health (e.g., fever), nutrition, stress and other factors, and it takes about 2-1/2 months until the sperm matures. For this reason, a single poor sperm test may not be a true indication of the man's fertility.


Normal Values for Semen Analysis:


Volume: >2.0ml

Concentration: >20 million/ml

Total Cells: >40 million

Motility: ~50%

Normal Forms: >14%

Additional factors that may appear on your test include:

White & red blood cell counts - If these are abnormally high, antibiotics may be recommended.

Semen Viscosity - Coagulated sperm should liquefy within an hour. If it does not, sometimes IUI will solve the problem.

Sperm Agglutination - Sperm that "clump together". This may be a sign of antisperm antibodies - when your own body mistakes your sperm as an external organism. Sperm agglutination can also be caused by infection.

We recommend the following pages for more information:

Information and Stories about Male Infertility

The lighter side... I'd like to make a deposit please by Frank N Beans (a blog entry)

The Formula for Male Infertility

Two home tests are available. The first is less expensive and tests only sperm concentration PreConceive Male Fertility Sperm Test. The second tests both sperm count and sperm motility is the Micra Sperm Test. Both are performed in the privacy of your own home.

Additional topics of interest
Male infertility
Sperm donation
Semen testing
Home sperm tests
Sperm quality

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