Semen is the fluid that is released from the penis through the urethra during ejaculation. It is a combination of sperm, seminal fluids, prostatic fluid and fructose which nourishes sperm. A semen analysis is a laboratory evaluation of a man's semen to measure the quantity, quality, and mobility of sperm and semen fluid. This test is sometimes referred to as a sperm count and is often performed to determine if there is an issue with fertility in a male. It may also be ordered after a vasectomy to ensure there are no residual sperm in the semen. It may be ordered to monitor sperm counts after a vasectomy reversal or varicocele repair.
The Semen Analysis Procedure
For a semen analysis to be collected, the patient will be asked to provide a sample. This is completed by ejaculating into a sterile cup through masturbation. The semen should be quickly analyzed after collection to obtain most accurate results. After a semen sample is provided, the semen is analyzed in a lab and the following factors are evaluated:
● Volume of semen
● Total sperm count
● Sperm movement or motility
● Concentration of sperm
● Size and shape of sperm (morphology)
● pH levels or how acidic semen is
● White blood cell count to evaluate for infection
● Sugar or fructose levels
Results of Semen Analysis
If the results of the evaluation reveal that the sperm count is abnormally low, it may be an indicator of fertility problems. Abnormal shape, movement, or high acidity content of the sperm may also impact fertility. It is important to note, however, abnormal results in semen testing may not necessarily indicate a fertility problem. A second semen analysis is usually performed about 4 to 6 weeks later to see whether sperm quality has improved and to reevaluate the results. If there are still abnormalities present upon rechecking, additional tests (labs and/or diagnostic imaging) may be necessary to investigate any underlying problems.