Semen Analysis is an Important Part of Your Infertility Workup
We get asked everyday…why does my partner need a semen analysis when it’s me that wants to get pregnant?
In fact, national infertility statistics site 30 – 40% of infertility diagnoses are the result of female factors and the same is true for male infertility factors. Thus, sperm analysis is a vital part of your complete, infertility workup.
While physiology and anatomy are important, the bulk of male infertility diagnosis rest in:
- The sperm count (how many sperm are in a single semen sample)
- Their shape (morphology)
- DNA health
- Their ability to swim/move (motility).
Sperm Analysis is Best Left to Fertility Center Lab Technicians
“I already had my sperm tested, and things were just fine…”
This is a common remark during initial fertility consultations, typically uttered by men who submitted a semen sample through their wife’s OB/GYN during the initial phase of not-getting-pregnant-as-expected. Unfortunately, while general lab techs do their best, they aren’t fertility lab technicians.
Fertility center lab technicians are trained to find sperm issues that can be overlooked or missed in a general semen count analysis, which is why it’s best to provide a fresh sample to your fertility specialist for more accurate diagnosis.
Your semen analysis will be carefully examined for:
Semen helps the sperm to swim. Ideally, we like to see a healthy, semen volume of 1.5 mL per ejaculation.
pH (acidity level)
If semen acid levels are too high, it kills off sperm. With pH – the higher the number, the lower the acid level. Normal semen pH levels are > or equal to 7.2.
Sperm concentration (count)
This measurement tells us how many sperm are in each mL of semen. Healthy sperm counts are 15,000,000 (15 million) or more per/mL.
We’re looking for how many of those sperm are moving – period. In a healthy sperm sample, at least 40% of the sperm should be swimming or moving in some way, shape or form.
As you know, it takes a sperm that swims in a forward direction – or in very large circles – to make contact with a healthy egg. We’ll evaluate how many of the sperm are swimming in a forward direction, this should be 32% or higher.
Morphology (how are they shaped)
Healthy sperm have an oblong head and a long tail. Abnormal sperm have a misshapen head, a crooked tail and/or a double tail. All of these things affect how the sperm moves and can also indicate DNA problems that could result in a baby with chromosomal/genetic defects.
Some sperm are alive and others aren’t. We want to see that at least 58% of the sperm are alive.
White blood cells
These are a sign of infection that could potentially affect fertility. Healthy sperm samples have less than 1,000,000 (1 million) white blood cells/mL).