For those suffering male infertility, a sperm analysis report can help give some answers. The results from semen analysis reports can be confusing and difficult to interpret, especially if you’re waiting to find out whether your semen is contributing to problems with conceiving a child. However, knowing your semen analysis results can help make this process less overwhelming for you and your partner.
Read on to learn more about how semen analysis works and tips on reading a sperm analysis report.
What is Semen Analysis?
Semen analysis is a test used to analyze the overall health of your sperm. For example, it can detect the volume or number of your sperm and its shape. It can also measure the way sperm moves, which is known as motility.
A semen analysis test involves collecting a sample of your semen and sending it to a lab for evaluation. Many times, semen collection is performed throughout at least three appointments, given how a male’s sperm count can vary from one day to the next. This allows doctors and lab workers to accurately measure sperm, conduct the analysis, and arrive at a conclusion.
Who Can Benefit from Semen Analysis?
Semen analysis is usually performed when couples have difficulty conceiving a child. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 15% of all couples of reproductive age experience infertility. This test can determine whether a problem with your sperm contributes to fertility problems. If so, a fertility specialist can work with you to treat the underlying cause of infertility – whether it involves increasing your sperm count or resolving issues related to sperm dysfunction.
A sperm analysis test is also helpful for those looking to freeze their semen to ensure the sample is viable for future use. Semen analysis may also be performed to confirm whether a vasectomy was successful. It can do this by checking whether any sperm is present in your semen. If you have had a vasectomy, your doctor may recommend undergoing semen analysis every month for several months to make sure the procedure worked.
How Does Semen Analysis Work?
Semen analysis requires you to provide a semen sample. This is usually done at a lab or fertility clinic. Many doctors will prefer that you provide a sample by masturbating and ejaculating into a specimen cup, as this method usually results in the cleanest possible sample. Other forms of semen collection include having sex and ejaculating into a condom or withdrawing before ejaculating into a cup. Your fertility doctor can discuss different methods of semen collection that can be used at the clinic.
Before providing your semen sample, your doctor may recommend abstaining from drugs, alcohol, caffeine, herbal supplements, and hormone medications. All these substances may compromise the accuracy of your sperm analysis results. Your doctor may also instruct you to avoid ejaculating 24 to 72 hours before the test.
Results from a sperm analysis usually come back within 24 hours to one week. Your doctor will contact you to discuss your results when they’re ready.
How to Read a Sperm Analysis Report?
Your semen analysis results will reflect the health and quality of your sperm. Here’s what each of these measurements means so you can interpret them correctly.
Sperm concentration. Also referred to as your sperm count, sperm concentration is the number of sperm in every milliliter of fluid.
Sperm motility. This is the percentage of sperm that moves around or is motile. Sperm that is not motile will not have the ability to move and find the egg.
Semen volume. This is the total amount of fluid in your semen sample. A volume that is too low can lead to problems with fertilizing an egg, while a volume that is too high could mean sperm is diluted.
Total motile sperm count. This is the total number of sperm in your sample that is moving or motile.
Sperm morphology. This refers to the shape of your sperm. Sperm that has an abnormal shape can have difficulty fertilizing an egg.
Viscosity. This refers to the thickness of your sperm fluid.
Leukocytes. This refers to white blood cells that may be present in your sample. The presence of leukocytes in your semen can indicate that you have inflammation or infection. Having some leukocytes in your sample is normal, but having too many is considered abnormal.
What is a Normal Sperm Analysis Report?
“Normal” sperm analysis results mean that no problems are detected with your sperm or semen that could indicate infertility. Here’s how to tell whether your sperm analysis results are normal:
Sperm concentration is at least 20 million per milliliter.
Sperm motility is 50% or greater. This means at least 50% of your sperm are motile.
Semen volume is between 1.5 milliliters and 5 milliliters.
Total motile sperm count is approximately 15 million motile sperm.
At least 30% of your sperm has a normal shape.
Your sperm is of low or moderate viscosity.
Your sperm contains fewer than 1 million leukocytes per milliliter.
Your doctor can discuss your results with you in greater detail and review your available treatment options if one or more features of your semen sample did come back as abnormal. Common infertility treatments include in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, and fertility medications. Your doctor may also recommend additional diagnostic testing to confirm or rule out specific fertility problems. If you would like to learn more about getting a sperm analysis completed or have questions about recent results, contact Red Rock Fertility today to consult with one of our fertility specialists to learn more.
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