What is semen analysis and the procedure for doing it?
Semen analysis testing or a sperm count test is used to analyze the quality, number, motility, and morphology of a man’s sperm. This test is performed to assess a man’s fertility and also the health and viability of his sperms. It requires freshly retrieved semen.
For an accurate result, the doctor will conduct the semen analysis more than once as the sperm quantity may vary on a daily basis.
Who Needs to Undergo a Semen Analysis?
A semen analysis will be required mostly:
- To test male infertility in couples who are unable to conceive
- To confirm the success of a vasectomy by checking for sperms in semen
Semen Analysis Procedures
A semen analysis procedure involves a pre-preparation of the patient in the following ways:
- Abstain from sex and masturbation for 2 to 5 days before the test
- Avoid consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and drugs for 2 to 5 days before the test
- Avoid taking herbal supplements or hormone medications
- Do not use any lubricant while taking the sample of your semen
It is always recommended to give your sample by ejaculating into a collection container at the clinic. But if you are uncomfortable, you can also collect the sample in many ways, like masturbating, sex with a condom (non spermicida) or sex with your partner and withdrawing before ejaculation. Make sure to keep the semen at body temperature and also deliver it to the testing facility within one hour of collecting the sample.
What Does the Result Tell You?
Once the sample reaches the lab, it is either manually tested under a microscope or a computer-assisted semen analysis may be conducted. In both cases, the result will be compared to the reference values published by the World Health Organization.
If it’s in regard to a vasectomy, then only the presence of sperm will be checked in the result. In case of testing the male infertility issues, the analysis with a wealth of information will be required. The following characteristics of the semen and sperms are investigated and reported as per WHO 2010 guidelines:
- Sperm morphology - If a man has more than 4%of the sperms with normal shape and size, then it is considered as a normal result.
- Sperm motility - This factor of the sperm defines its ability to reach the egg and fertilize it. The report is considered normal if sample has more than 32% progressive motile sperms.
- Sperm count - The normal value of a sperm count should be more than 15 million/ml and total sperm count more than 39 million /ml are considered normal result.
- Volume -The normal volume of a man’s ejaculate should be greater than 1.5ml
- pH - If your pH level is between 7.2 and 7.8, then it considered as a normal result.
- Liquefaction -Semen should usually liquefy within 15 to 30 minutes.
- Appearance - Normal semen should appear to be whitish to gray in color and should be opalescent.
If some abnormality is found in your semen, it is better to take treatment at an early stage.