Semen analysis is the standard diagnostic test for evaluating male fertility. It is performed in the laboratory and involves examining several aspects of quality and quantity of sperm and semen by checking:
- sperm count – the amount of sperm in semen
- sperm motility – the ability of sperm to swim
- sperm velocity – the speed for sperm’s forward movement
- sperm morphology – the size, shape and vitality of sperm
- semen total volume
- semen liquefaction – the ability of semen to turn from the gel-like state of the ejaculate to a liquid state
- semen color and pH
Occasionally, our andrology technologists may also prepare cultures from semen to check for bacterial infections or sexual transmitted diseases. Also in cases of azoospermia (absence of sperm), we measure fructose levels in the semen (indicative of secretory function in the testes) to determine whether any of the ejaculatory mechanisms are malfunctioning due to a blockage or other medical reason.
Semen analysis is the simplest test for assessing male factor and it is the starting point for every man involved in infertility investigations. Poor quality sperm accounts for about 1/3 of infertility, and it can be independent of an overall good male health.
When certain sperm abnormalities are found with a semen analysis (oligospermia or azoospermia for instance), additional tests (blood testing for hormonal analysis, DNA fragmentation test, or FISH on sperm, among others) will be planned, so we can fully evaluate the case.
Also semen analysis can benefit men that have undergone reversal of their vasectomy or cancer treatment and want to check the effects of these procedures, so they can plan and proceed with creating a family.
Prior semen analysis, you will be asked to remain abstinent of any sexual activity for 2-3 days. You will then attend our clinic in order to produce a fresh sample of semen into a sterile container in one of our private rooms, in the Andrology unit.
The sample will be collected immediately before its quality declines and it will be analyzed in the laboratory by one of our technologists, who will examine all of the semen and sperm parameters. Your doctor will explain your results and discuss all possible options in a follow up appointment.
It is very important for your doctor to know the status of your semen, as it will help in deciding which type of ART, Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI), In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) with or without Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), you may require.
Men with poor outcome from semen analysis may still be able to inseminate naturally and sometimes men with good results may still require help, as several factors can affect sperm count and / or other semen parameters.
Your doctor will be able to explain your results in relation to your case and based on your individual circumstances.