Importance of Sperm Analysis
If you and your partner are having problems getting pregnant your next step will be infertility testing to determine what’s preventing you from being able to conceive. A semen analysis will be part of your workup for infertility just as your partner will undergo testing to see if there are reasons that she’s not able to conceive. Even though the semen analysis is standard medical testing you might be feeling a bit uneasy about the results. Having your sperm testing as early as possible during infertility testing can save you a lot of time if the cause of your infertility is you and not your partner.
Semen Analysis Procedure
There are no physical symptoms when there’s something wrong with your semen and this is why testing for abnormalities is so important. The procedure to have your sperm tested is painless on your part and only takes a few days for the results to be returned to you. Your doctor will most likely have you abstain from sex for a few days prior to obtaining a semen sample. This is so that your sperm concentration is as good as possible for testing purposes. You’ll either go to the lab to ejaculate or you may be allowed to do this at home, and just take your sample to the lab. Keep in mind that in order for semen testing to be accurate, your sample needs to be at the lab within about an hour.
What do the Results of Your Semen Analysis Mean?
The results of your semen analysis are going to give your doctor a good picture of your fertility. Following are the normal values that are expected in your semen:
- Volume: >2.0ml
- Concentration: >20 million/ml
- Total Cells: >40 million
- Normal Forms: >14%
- Motility: ~50%
If there are one or more factors of the results that are not within the normal range then you’ll have to take the test all over again in a few weeks. This is because the quality of your sperm is affected by your general health. If you have even a slight fever or have been going through some stressful times then your first sperm test might not be a true indicating factor of your fertility. Other than the factors listed above there might be some other information included in the test results. This includes your red and white blood cell count, semen viscosity, and sperm agglutination. A positive result for sperm agglutination means that your sperm group together and this is an indication of antisperm antibodies, which is when your body considers your sperm to be an outside organism.
Normal sperm volume is from 1.5 to 5.0ml. If there is a low sperm volume it can indicate an obstruction in your ejaculatory ducts. As well, retrograde ejaculation can cause low sperm volume. This happens when the semen is ejaculated into the bladder rather than out through the penis.
This will count the number of sperm that there are in your semen sample. If you have a low sperm count you may still be fertile if the sperm that you have are of high quality. In this case while it may not be possible for you to naturally impregnate your partner your sperm will still be able to be used in infertility treatments such as IVF (in vitro fertilization) and IUI (Intrauterine insemination). Having a low sperm count will give your doctor a sign that further testing will need to be done.
Sperm motility is all about the movement of your sperm through the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes so that they can reach the egg. Normal sperm motility is 50 percent and means that your sperm are moving along just fine. Lower values mean that there is a problem with how quickly your sperm will be able to reach the egg before that egg is no longer available to be fertilized.
Sperm morphology indicates any problems with the shape of your sperm. Sperm that are misshapen are a sign that they’ve been exposed to toxins or chemicals and that there might be some DNA damage. This can make it more difficult for you to father a child and may be an indicator of genetic abnormalities.
A Final Analysis of Your Semen
A successful pregnancy is going to be dependent on having healthy sperm. The results from your semen analysis will allow your doctor to make a diagnosis and then provide you with treatment to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Sometimes the treatment will be as simple as making sure to have sex during the five true fertile days of your partner’s cycle. Other times the treatment will be more complex and require medication to help your sperm along so that they can fertilize the egg. No matter what, finding out the results from your semen analysis can help you and your partner know what is happening, and what you can expect when it comes to having a baby.