Semen analysis measures male fertility
If you and your partner have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, fertility testing for both partners is the first step toward identifying the cause. For men, the first-line fertility test is semen analysis, in which a sample of ejaculate is evaluated to determine the quantity, morphology and movement of the sperm.
To fertilize an egg through intercourse, there must be enough sperm present that are able to swim in the right direction and are the right shape to penetrate the egg. A semen analysis gives our Orange County fertility center valuable information about the male partner’s sperm, helping to pinpoint whether any male factor fertility issues exist and how to treat them.
Semen analysis is also available without a doctor’s order for any man interested in learning more about his own fertility. A physician may be needed to interpret your results.
What semen analysis reveals
At the lab, the male partner provides a semen sample through masturbation, after abstaining from ejaculation for two to five days. The sample is produced on-site in a private room, and a sterile cup is provided for collection.
The semen sample is then analyzed by experienced andrologists at our fertility lab to evaluate several characteristics of the semen and sperm.
- Semen volume, or the amount of fluid in the ejaculate
- Sperm concentration, or the number of sperm present per mL of seminal fluid
- Total number of sperm per ejaculate
- Morphology, or percentage of sperm that have a normal shape
- Motility, or movement, and quality of forward progression
- Viscosity and agglutination
- White blood cell and immature sperm cell counts
Results are available in four to five days.
If your semen analysis results are abnormal, additional tests may be ordered, such as a repeat semen analysis, hormone evaluation, sperm function testing or immunological testing. Depending on your results, you may be referred to a urologist specializing in male infertility for further evaluation.
Depending on diagnosis, treatment may be available to improve your fertility. Your fertility specialist may also suggest certain lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, avoiding heat sources such as hot tubs or saunas, or losing weight.
Please keep in mind that because it takes about three months for the body to produce sperm, any changes made will need time to take effect, and a repeat semen analysis may be ordered to evaluate progress.
Get the answers you need
If your semen results are abnormal, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to father a child. Some factors balance out others. For example, a lower count of normally shaped sperm may be fine if the total sperm count is high. For men with male factor infertility, advanced treatment options such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), sperm retrieval and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can often help men achieve their goal of fatherhood.
To learn more about semen analysis, contact our Orange County fertility center to schedule a consultation.