How It Is Done continued...
If any of these methods are against your beliefs, talk with your doctor about different methods of collection.
If you collect the semen sample at home, the sample must be
received at the laboratory or clinic within 1 hour. Keep the sample out of
direct sunlight and do not allow it to get cold or hot. If it is a cold day,
carry the semen sample container against your body to keep it as close to body
temperature as possible. Do not refrigerate the semen sample.
Since semen samples may vary from day to day, 2 or 3 different samples
may be evaluated within a 3-month period for accurate testing.
semen analysis to test the effectiveness of a vasectomy is usually done 6 weeks
after the vasectomy.
How It Feels
Producing a semen sample does not cause
any discomfort. But you may feel embarrassed about the method used to collect
There are no risks associated with collecting a
semen analysis measures the amount of semen a man
produces and determines the number and quality of
sperm in the semen sample. Results of a semen analysis
are usually available within a day. Normal values may vary from lab to
2–5 milliliters (mL) (0.002–0.005 L in SI units) per
An abnormally low or high semen volume is
present, which may sometimes cause fertility problems.
20–30 minutes after collection
An abnormally long liquefaction time is
present, which may indicate an infection.
20 million spermatozoa per milliliter (mL) or
0 sperm per milliliter if the man has had a
A very low sperm count is present, which
infertility. But a low sperm count does not always
mean that a man cannot father a child. Men with sperm counts below 1 million
have fathered children.
More than 30% of the sperm have normal
Kruger criteria: More than 14% of the sperm have a normal shape.
Sperm can be abnormal in several ways, such
as having two heads or two tails, a short tail, a tiny head (pinhead), or a
round (rather than oval) head. Abnormal sperm may be unable to move normally or
to penetrate an egg. Some abnormal sperm are usually found in every normal
semen sample. But a high percentage of abnormal sperm may make it more
difficult for a man to father a child.
More than 50% of the sperm show normal
forward movement after 1 hour.
Sperm must be able to move forward (or
"swim") through cervical mucus to reach an egg. A high percentage of sperm that
cannot swim properly may impair a man's ability to father a child.
Semen pH of 7.1–8.0
An abnormally high or low semen pH can kill
sperm or affect their ability to move or to penetrate an egg.
No white blood cells or bacteria are
Bacteria or a large number of white blood
cells are present, which may indicate an infection.
Certain conditions may be linked with a low or absent
sperm count. These conditions include
Klinefelter syndrome, radiation treatment to the
testicles, or diseases that can cause shrinking
(atrophy) of the testicles (such as
If a low sperm count or a high
percentage of sperm abnormalities are found, further testing may be done. Other
tests may include measuring hormones, such as
luteinizing hormone (LH),
follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), or
prolactin. A small sample (biopsy) of the
testicles may be needed for further evaluation if the sperm count or motility
is extremely low.