Undergoing a semen analysis test can be a very intimidating task for many men. The anxiety over the results can become a huge mental pressure. However, it is not as difficult as it seems. Here is a clear and simple guide for you to understand what all those numbers stand for.
Semen analysis is the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of a man’s semen and the contents therein. Semen is greyish white male bodily fluid discharged during ejaculation. Semen analysis is a helpful guide if you plan to evaluate your fertility levels or if you are planning a pregnancy. It is also the standard test to verify the success of a vasectomy.
Normally, one can masturbate and ejaculate semen into a sterile sample cup in a secluded room at the lab. It can be obtained alternately using a special condom made to collect semen during an intercourse. Samples collected at home stay viable only for an hour for lab detection and must be maintained at room temperature.
Taking a good quality sample
As sperm counts vary daily, the doctor usually advises taking more than one sample. Generally, 2-3 samples can be tested over a period of three months. Ensure to undergo each test at least 7 days apart. An average of all the sperm samples is taken that helps the doctor arrive at the most definite and accurate result.
Understanding 7 important parameters of semen analysis report
|Sr No.||Parameters||Measurement unit||Normal range|
|1||Semen volume||ml||1.5 – 5 mL, or between ¼ – 1 teaspoon|
|2||Total sperm count||Million/ml||20 million or more|
|3||Sperm concentration||Million/ml||15 million or more|
|4||Total motility||percent||40% or more|
|5||Progressive motility||percent||32% or more|
|6||Vitality||percent||58% or more|
|7||Sperm morphology (% of normal-appearing sperm)||percent||4% or more|
Average volume of semen produced by a man usually ranges from 1.5 – 5 ml or between ¼ – 1 teaspoon of ejaculation. Low volume of semen can be an indicator of a problem with the prostate, blockage of the seminal vesicles or lack of ability of a seminal vesicle to produce enough semen.
Total sperm count
Sperm count or sperm density tends to alter on daily basis. It is also affected by abstaining from sexual intercourse. A healthy sperm count ranges from 20 million to over 200 million. If it is not within this range, it can affect the chances of conceiving a baby.
On an average, an ideal sperm count falls between 15 million to 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. A low concentration can be an indicator of semen blockage or inefficiencies in sperm production from the testicles.
Total motility & progressive motility
Motility is how well the sperm swims to get through the eggs, traveling through the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes.
There are two types of motility:
- Total motility (any kind of movement)
- Progressive motility (forward movement)
Healthy sperms usually move very fast in the forward direction. One has to have more than 40% of sperm motility for higher chances of conceiving. Low sperm motility can be an indicator of a hormonal problem or a varicocele. It can also be a sign of toxin exposures such as alcohol, smoking, caffeine or certain chemicals.
Motility can also be measured in detail by dividing it into four different grades:
- Grade a: These have progressive motility and move fast in a straight line. They are considered the strongest.
- Grade b: (non-linear motility): These also move forward but in a curved or crooked motion.
- Grade c: These can move their tails but cannot move forward( non-progressive motility)
- Grade d: These are immotile sperms and cannot move at all.
Sperm vitality or viability
Sperm viability refers to the percentage of live sperm in the semen sample. This count becomes important to measure especially if the sperm motility is low. It helps to differentiate between live non-motile sperm and dead sperm. At least 58% of the sperm cells should be viable to be considered normal.
Sperm morphology implies the shape and size (appearance) of the sperms. Any occurrence of misshape may be an indicator of exposure to toxins or infection. Normally shaped sperm should constitute at least 4% of the normal semen.
Other parameters include the following:
- Fructose level
- Liquefaction time
Understanding and diagnosing semen can be the first step towards better health. It can be a healthy reassurance for you and your partner to plan a family. It can also serve as an explanation to discuss your personal issues with your doctor and seek appropriate treatment. Do not be hesitant to ask any questions, as understanding a diagnosis and working towards improving it is important to achieving good health.