A complete semen analysis is designed to identify how much sperm is present. The semen is also a good indicator of an array of different potential reproductive/urinary tract issues such as retrograde ejaculation or decreased prostate function.
The semen analysis is usually the first and least expensive test a couple will pursue when encountering fertility issues because it can be completed quickly, conveniently, economically, and is far less invasive than the female fertility diagnostic tests.
Some of the attributes assessed within the semen analysis:
- Sperm concentration – (measured in millions per milliliter) Tells us how concentrated the semen is with sperm
- Percent motility – Proportion of sperm that can swim (motile) vs those that cannot swim (non-motile)
- Total motile – The total measure of swimming sperm in the semen, measured in millions. Determined by multiplying sperm concentration by percent motility
- Morphology – Analysis of sperm shape (head, midpiece, tail). An abnormal morphology may be limiting the number of quality sperm able to fertilize the egg
The total motile sperm concentration can indicate which method of conception is most appropriate for the couple; if the male’s sperm concentration is:
- Greater than 20 million motile sperm, natural intercourse can be considered
- Between 5-20 million motile sperm, artificial insemination should be considered with a sperm washing procedure
- Less than 5 million motile sperm, in-vitro fertilization should be considered, pooling might be an option
Other tests are available to further determine what could be causing fertility concerns, including:
- viability staining to determine how many of the sperm are alive
- anti-sperm antibody test to find out if the sperm are sticking to each other rather than swimming
- sperm DNA fragmentation to find out if the DNA within the sperm is damaged
Our practice is under the leadership of Martin D. Bastuba, MD (at our San Diego office), who can use this diagnostic tool to help assist individuals and couples achieve their goals of adding to their existing family. For an appointment to obtain a comprehensive sperm analysis please contact our lab at 714-730-3060.