A semen analysis is one of the preliminary tests a couple will undergo if they are trying to conceive. It can provide a wide range of information and insights about the health of the man’s sperm.
If you have just received your results and are not sure what they mean, don’t worry! We are here to help. Today, we are going to cover how to read a semen analysis.
Let’s Start with Sperm Concentration
The first thing to look at is sperm concentration. This is a measure of how many sperm are in each milliliter of semen. The Mayo Clinic advises that normal sperm density ranges between 15 million to 200 million sperm per milliliters of semen. Below 15 million would be considered a low concentration.
If the sperm concentration is low, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a man is infertile. It just means that he will likely need advanced treatment to increase his chances of conceiving
What is Sperm Motility?
The next thing to look at is sperm motility. This measures how well the sperm are swimming. According to the University of Utah, a total motile account exceeding 20 million is considered normal. This, however, does not guarantee an increased chance of conceiving.
The quality of the sperm’s movement is also important. Motility is classified into two categories: progressive and non-progressive. Progressive motility means that the sperm are swimming forward in a straight line. Non-progressive motility indicates that the sperm are swimming but not moving forward linearly.
Progressive motility is further divided into two subcategories: rapid and slow. Rapid progressive motility means that the sperm are swimming quickly and in a straight line. Slow progressive motility indicates that the sperm are swimming forward but not as quickly as those with rapid progressive motility.
Explaining Sperm Morphology
The last thing to consider is sperm morphology. This is a measure of the shape and size of the sperm. Sperm that are considered normal have an oval head and a long, thin tail.
Sperm with an abnormal morphology may have difficulty reaching and penetrating an egg, though this abnormal morphology is not uncommon. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, more sperm are misshapen than normally shaped.
Sperm morphology’s effects on pregnancy are still being understood by the medical community. They are believed to have some effect on reaching and penetrating the egg but further research is required to determine if any other factors extend beyond these two. It is still important to track the morphology of the sperm during an analysis so that your fertility specialist can determine if it aligns with other conception issues you are experiencing.
The pH of semen is also measured during a semen analysis. This measures the acidity or alkalinity of the semen and sperm. The ideal range is between seven and eight.
An irregular pH can identify if there are other factors that could be affecting fertility. These could include infection, an ejaculatory issue, and other similar issues that may require treatment before progressing further in your fertility journey.
What Could Cause an Abnormal Semen Analysis?
There are many things that could cause an abnormal semen analysis. These include:
- Hormonal imbalance issues
- Genetic causes
- Ejaculatory duct obstruction
- Varicocele (swelling of veins in the testicle)
- A chronic disease like diabetes
Some other causes could also include tumors, exposure to radiation, and general infertility. Your fertility specialist may recommend following up with another medical provider if an underlying condition is expected.
Depending on what the underlying condition might be, it might need to be addressed before resuming fertility treatment. This can help produce better quality sperm when re-analyzed later.
In some cases, no underlying condition can be found. This doesn’t mean that you are necessarily infertile. It just means that the cause of the abnormal semen analysis is unknown. Your specialist may recommend repeating the analysis and reviewing the results to gain a more clear understanding of any potential issues.
Get a Professional Semen Analysis in Palm Springs
Located in the Coachella Valley, our fertility specialists at Dreams Fertility are committed to providing the most caring and comprehensive fertility treatment in the Palm Springs area. If you are struggling to conceive or just want to know your fertility status and are considering a professional opinion, please contact us today to schedule a consult.
Dr. Luis Murrain joined Dreams Fertility in 2021, providing specialty services in Fertility and Reproductive Genetics. With a shared vision that everyone deserves to have the family of their dreams, we are dedicated to helping all of our patients. We believe that families come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them are beautiful. We are proud to have a long history of providing services to all, including gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples on their road to parenthood.