Semen analysis is the test which shows fertility doctors what the issue may be. It is such an important part of fertility because the analysis can indicate whether the male is fertile or infertile and why. Once infertility is determined and the reason for it, an appropriate course of fertility treatment can be administered.
During the analysis the following is tested:
- The count. This test determines how much sperm a man has. It is counted as how many million sperm per millilitre there is. The average count is 60 million per millilitre while 20 million per millilitre is considered infertile.
- Motility. This test indicates how well the little fellows move. More than 50% of them should be mobile.
- Morphology. This is the shape of the sperm. When examining the morphology, they will be placed under a microscope and checked for certain traits. There are quite strict requirements for this exam which the head, mid-piece and the tail need to pass in order for sperm to be considered normal.
- Ejaculate volume. How much the male ejaculates is also a factor in fertility. Two millilitres or more per ejaculate is considered normal. However there are various factors that can affect the ejaculate volume of the test sample such as performance anxiety. This could show a lower volume than under normal circumstances.
- Semen fluid. There are a number of factors that need to be tested when it comes to the fluid. The thickness of the fluid is considered, the colour as well as how quickly it liquefies after it’s been ejaculated. Any of these factors can affect fertility.
- Total motile count. This test calculates the number of motile sperm a man has in his ejaculate. The fertility doctor will calculate this multiplying the volume by the percentage of the motile sperm. The average amount would be 40 million.
- White blood cells. The fertility doctor will test the white blood cell count. If it is higher than usual it could indicate past infection or inflammation. White blood cells should be present but if there are more than one million white blood cells per millimetre then this could be a problem for fertility.
- Forward progression. This test assesses how well sperm performs in terms of forward movement. Motility, in general, means movement and not necessarily forward movement. The fertility doctor needs to check how active they are by checking how far the active sperm move within a certain distance.