Skip to content

    Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

    Select An Article
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Semen Analysis

    (continued)

    How It Is Done continued...

    If any of these methods are against your beliefs, talk with your doctor about different ways to get a sample.

    If you collect the semen sample at home, the sample must be given to the lab or clinic within 1 hour. Keep the sample out of direct sunlight. And do not let it get cold or hot. If it is a cold day, carry the semen sample container against your body. This helps 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, two or three different samples may be checked within a 3-month period. This helps to get accurate testing.

    A semen analysis to test how well a vasectomy has worked is usually done 6 weeks after the vasectomy.

    How It Feels

    Getting a semen sample does not cause any discomfort. But you may feel embarrassed about the method used to collect it.

    Risks

    There are no risks associated with collecting a semen sample.

    Results

    A semen analysis measures the amount of semen a man produces. It also shows the number and quality of spermcamera.gif in the semen sample. Results of a semen analysis are usually available within a day. Normal values may vary from lab to lab.

    Semen analysis 1

    Semen volume

    Normal:

    2-5 milliliters (mL) (0.002-0.005 L in SI units) per ejaculation

    Abnormal:

    An abnormally low or high semen volume is present. This may sometimes cause fertility problems.

    Liquefaction time

    Normal:

    20-30 minutes after collection

    Abnormal:

    An abnormally long liquefaction time is present. This may be a sign of an infection.

    Sperm count

    Normal:

    20 million spermatozoa per milliliter (mL) or more

    0 sperm per milliliter if the man has had a vasectomy

    Abnormal:

    A very low sperm count is present. This may mean infertility. But a low sperm count does not always mean that a man can't father a child. Men with sperm counts below 1 million have fathered children.

    Sperm shape (morphology)

    Normal:

    More than 30% of the sperm have normal shape.

    Kruger criteria: More than 14% of the sperm have a normal shape.

    Abnormal:

    Sperm can be abnormal in several ways. They may have two heads or two tails, a short tail, a tiny head (pinhead), or a round (rather than oval) head. Abnormal sperm may not be able to move normally or to penetrate an egg. Some sperm that aren't normal are usually found in every normal semen sample. But a high percentage of abnormal sperm may make it harder for a man to father a child.

    Sperm movement (motility)

    Normal:

    More than 50% of the sperm show normal forward movement after 1 hour.

    Abnormal:

    Sperm must be able to move forward (or "swim") through cervical mucus to reach an egg. A high percentage of sperm that can't swim well may make it harder for a man to father a child.

    Semen pH

    Normal:

    Semen pH of 7.1-8.0

    Abnormal:

    An abnormally high or low semen pH can kill sperm or affect how well they can move or can penetrate an egg.

    White blood cells

    Normal:

    No white blood cells or bacteria are found.

    Abnormal:

    Bacteria or a large number of white blood cells are present. This may be a sign of an infection.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 30, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Four pregnant women standing in a row
    How much do you know about conception?
    Couple with surrogate mother
    Which one is right for you?
     
    couple lying in grass holding hands
    Why Dad's health matters.
    couple viewing positive pregnancy test
    6 ways to improve your chances.
     
    Which Treatment Is Right For You
    Slideshow
    Conception Myths
    Article
     
    eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
    Video
    Conception
    Slideshow
     
    Charting Your Fertility Cycle
    Article
    Fertility Specialist
    Article
     
    Understanding Fertility Symptoms
    Article
    invitro fertilization
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections