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Semen Analysis:

What is a semen analysis?

A semen analysis evaluates the seminal characteristics of the ejaculate, in order to assess whether there are any deficiencies that may impair fertilization and subsequent pregnancy. The various parameters tested are:

  • Semen volume
  • Sperm concentration
  • Sperm count
  • Percentage motile sperm
  • Grade of motility
  • Normal sperm morphology

These parameters allow us to detect if there are any problems with the reproductive system, so that you and your physician may isolate the problem and treat it efficiently and effectively.

Who needs to have a semen analysis?

Anyone who is having trouble conceiving should have a semen analysis done. In about 40% of infertile couples, the cause of the infertility lies with the males, and this could easily and quickly be diagnosed via a semen analysis.

Where can I have my semen analysis done?

There are many centers and labaratories, even on the web, that offer semen analysis. However, please note that many centers do not perform a comprehensive analysis, leaving out some key tests or parameters that could be crucial in determining the proper and accurate diagnosis of a patient's problem or difficulty. Those labs or facilities that offer semen analysis services over the Internet lack the necessary semen shipper and complete understanding of all principles involved to offer you, the patient, the types of answers that you are looking for. The BioTranz semen shipper is the one and only proven product and technology of its kind.

The Andrology Institute of America (AIA) is an internationally recognized center that deals specifically with the evaluation of male infertility. The AIA performs a detailed analysis and together with the patient history, will make certain recommendations to you and your physician with regards to your treatment.

Also, the laboratory facilities at AIA are CLIA certified by the U.S. Department of Health (CLIA, 88).

How should I collect the sample?

We prefer that the sample be collected during intercourse via the use of the Zavos Seminal Collection Device (ZSCD™), a non-spermicidal condom that has been shown to yield better results than collection via masturbation. The seminal collection condoms are avialable from the Andrology Institute. If needed, the sample may be collected via masturbation or coitus interruptus, but these methods are not recommended.

What about sexual abstinence?

The sample should be collected after 3-4 days of sexual abstinence. It has been shown that shorter abstinence periods may result in lower sperm counts but possibly higher quality sperm whereas longer periods may yield lower percentage of motile sperm and overall poor quality sperm.

What is normal semen?

Semen is usually white or grey, but can occasionally appear yellowish. Pink or red semen suggests that blood is present. Although this is only rarely due to a serious health problem, men with semen that seems bloodstained should seek advice from their family doctor.

Semen clots almost immediately after ejaculation, forming a sticky, jelly-like liquid. It will liquefy again in 15 to 30 minutes. It is quite normal for semen to form jelly-like globules and this does not indicate any health or fertility problems. Failure of clotting and subsequent liquefaction can cause fertility problems.

The average volume of semen produced at ejaculation is 2 to 6ml. Volumes consistently less than 1.5ml (hypospermia) or more than 6.5ml (hyperspermia) are probably abnormal. Lower volumes may occur after excessive and frequent ejaculation and higher volumes are seen after prolonged sexual abstinence.


The World Health Organisation provides a definition of a 'normal' semen analysis profile.  It is quite surprising how many dead and abnormal sperm can be present in a 'normal' sample.

Measuring sperm count is a very technical business and results can be affected by many factors, including the length of time between ejaculation (sexual abstinence ) and semen sample analysis, and how the sample is kept when being transported to the lab.  Professor Zavos, one of the formost experts in the field of semenology discovered many new and novel methods for collecting, evaluating and improving semen qualities.  Among the many accomplishments, he established that if a man produces an ejaculate at intercourse, he stands a significantly greater chance of producing a "superior" ejaculate with greater volume, sperm numbers and sperm with greater quality, overall.

There can be enormous variation in sperm count in an individual, even over a few days. It is important that at least two, preferably three or more, samples are analysed, each at least two to three weeks apart to get a clear and objective profile of ones semen quality and its ability to cause adequate conception and pregnancy.  A single sample is inadequate to assess semen quality.

Sperm count is only an indication of a man's ability to produce a good or bad sperm count but does not necessarily predict accurately the ability of a man's ability to impregnate a woman and does not guarantee success. In addition, more is not necessarily better, as too high a sperm count can also result in fertility problems (hyperspermia or polyzoospermia).

What are the normal values for a semen analysis?

Normal semen values as outlined by the World Health Organization are as follows:

PARAMETER
MINIMUM VALUE
Volume (mL)
2.0
Sperm Concentration (million/mL)
20
Motility (%)
50
Forward Progression (0-4)
3
Normal Morphology (%) (WHO)
30
Normal Morphology (%) (Strict)
14
Total Sperm Count (million)
40
Total Motile Sperm (million)
20
Total Functional Sperm (million)
6

Glossary of terms

  • Aspermia: No semen ejaculated
  • Hematospermia: Blood present in an ejaculate/semen
  • Leucocytospermia: White blood cells present in an ejaculate/semen
  • Azoospermia: No spermatozoa found in an ejaculate/semen
  • Normozoospermia: Normal semen parameters
  • Oligozoospermia: Low sperm concentration
  • Asthenozoospermia: Poor motility and/or forward progression
  • Teratozoospermia: Reduced percentage of morphological normal sperm
  • Necrozoospermia: No live sperm in ejaculated semen
  • Globozoospermia: Round headed acrosome-less sperm
  • Polyzoospermia: Excessive number of sperm in ejaculate

 

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