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Semen Analysis

(continued)

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Medicines, such as cimetidine (Tagamet), male and female hormones (testosterone, estrogen), sulfasalazine, nitrofurantoin, and some chemotherapy medicines.
  • Caffeine, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and smoking tobacco.
  • Herbal medicines, such as St. John's wort and high doses of echinacea.
  • A semen sample that gets cold. The sperm motility value will be inaccurately low if the semen sample gets cold.
  • Exposure to radiation, some chemicals (such as certain pesticides or spermicides), and prolonged heat exposure.
  • An incomplete semen sample. This is more common if a sample is collected by methods other than masturbation.
  • Not ejaculating for several days. This may affect the semen volume.

What To Think About

  • A home test kit to determine sperm count has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This test can help a man find out if he has fertility problems.
  • A semen sample collected at home 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.
  • Consistently detecting sperm in the semen of a man who has had a vasectomy means that his surgery was not successful, and another form of birth control should be used to prevent pregnancy. A low number of sperm may be present in a semen sample taken right after a vasectomy. But sperm should not be present in subsequent samples.
  • A man whose mother took the medicine diethylstilbestrol (DES) during her pregnancy with him has a greater-than-normal risk of being unable to father a child (infertile).
  • More tests may include measuring hormone levels, such as:
  • Other fertility testing, including sperm penetration, the presence of antisperm antibodies, or analysis after sexual intercourse (postcoital), may be recommended for infertility problems. To learn more, see the topic Infertility Testing.

Related Information

Citations

  1. Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Male infertility. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 1249–1292. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 30, 2012
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.
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