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semen analysis

sperm plays a very important role in the fertility process, so understanding the shape, count, size, and overall makeup of your sperm will be an important factor in determining fertility potential.

what is a sperm analysis

sperm transports genetic material to the egg where fertilization takes place. after the sperm fertilizes the egg, an embryo is created and conception begins. however, in one-third of infertility cases, the sperm (or absence of it) is the reason you can’t get pregnant. a semen analysis is the most accurate test of sperm concentration, motility, morphology, and count. we’re going to measure a few things when we test your sperm, and this is a standard part of every fertility assessment.

sperm count and volume

this is the actual number of sperm in the specimen.  a normal count ranges from 15 to 80 million sperm/ml (milliliter). anything below this is considered low, and referred to as oligospermia. this can be from varicocele (enlarged veins which disrupt blood flow and temperature to the testes), infection, ejaculation issues, medications, hormones, exposure to chemicals, overheating, drug and alcohol use, or weight problems. getting this diagnosis may seem scary, but there are treatment options available.

a normal volume can range from 2.0 – 5.0 ml (a ml is approximately the amount in a teaspoon).

when low volume is found, this can be due to various physiological reasons, including an obstruction in the ejaculatory ducts.

motility

motility refers to how sperm swim. healthy sperm motility is defined as sperm with forward progression of at least 25 micrometers per second. it’s considered normal for half of the sperm to be moving. poor sperm motility is called asthenospermia or asthenozoospermia. there are different types of sperm motility issues, including:

  • slow or sluggish progressive motility
  • non-progressive motility, which is defined as anything less than 5 micrometers per second
  • no mobility

under a powerful microscope, your embryologist will watch how fast the sperm move, if they are moving in a forward direction, and if this direction is in a straight line.

morphology

sperm morphology refers to the size and shape of the sperm. abnormally shaped sperm may have a hard time fertilizing an egg to create an embryo. the abnormal shape can be from an exposure to chemicals, toxins, or other issues. abnormal sperm have head or tail defects — such as a large or misshapen head or a crooked or double tail. these defects might affect the ability of the sperm to reach and dissolve the outer layer of the egg.