Jun 082010
 

Here’s how to read and understand your semen analysis, plus a description of what a normal sperm looks like. Sluggish sperm, diminished sperm motility, and normal forward sperm progression are some of the terms you’ll see on your semen analysis results.

Semen Analysis Results

Semen Analysis You Can Do at Home

SpermCheck for Fertility is an easy way to do a semen analysis at home. Fertility doctors recommend doing at least two sperm tests, about three months apart. Men are constantly producing sperm, so test results can change from month to month.

“A normal sperm has three sections: a head, a midpiece, and a tail,” writes Sharon Perkins and Jackie Meyers-Thompson in Infertility For Dummies (a great resource for couples who want to get pregnant!). “All three parts need to be normal for a sperm to be considered normal, according to the strict Kruger morphology, a system for evaluating sperm…”

Since male infertility accounts for about 33% of not getting pregnant for couples, it’s important to get a semen analysis done if you can’t get pregnant. A man’s sperm count, motility, or production is very important to pregnancy. Here’s a description of the three parts of a sperm, plus information on what sperm test results mean…



What is a Sperm Made of?

Though sperm are teeny tiny, laboratory technicians can see their details under a microscope (which is what will happen during a semen analysis or sperm test).

  • The head of a sperm contains all the genetic material, so a sperm with an abnormal head can’t fertilize an egg.
  • The midpiece of a sperm contains fructose, which is the energy it needs to move rapidly.
  • The tail of a sperm is necessary for propulsion. Sperm with no tail, two tails, or coiled tails are abnormal, and won’t help with getting pregnant.

“Most laboratories can do a ‘screening’ semen analysis,” writes Sharon Perkins and Jackie Meyers-Thompson in Infertility For Dummies. “However, the determination of morphology (proportion of ‘normal’ forms)…takes a high level of expertise, and is generally only available at a bona fide fertility program.”

What Does Your Semen Analysis Mean?

Okay, you’ve received the results of your sperm test…and you have no idea what sperm volume, concentration, motility, or morphology really means! Have no fear: the following parameters are from the World Health Organization (WHO) – a reliable source of medical information.

Normal sperm volume (amount) is 1.5 to 5 ml, or about a teaspoon.

Normal sperm concentration should be greater than 20 million sperm/ml, or a total of greater than 40 million per ejaculate.

Normal sperm motility means that more than 40% of the sperm should be moving (swim forward, mates!).

Normal sperm morphology means that more than about 30% of sperm should be normally shaped, as determined by the lab technician. If the lab uses the more strict Kruger criteria, normal sperm morphology should be 14%.

Normal sperm forward progression is at least 2, on a scale of 1 to 4 (this part of the sperm test measures how many sperm are moving forward).

Sperm white blood cells should be no more than 0 to 5 per high-power field. More could indicate infection.

Sperm hyperviscosity means that the semen should gel promptly, but should liquefy within 30 minutes after the sample is taken.

Sperm Ph should be alkaline, to protect sperm from the acidic environment of the woman’s va-jay-jay.

sperm test results

“How to Understand the Results of Your Semen Analysis” image via Nemo, Pixabay, CC license

If you’re worried about the health of your sperm, read Low Sperm Count – How Do I Make Healthy Sperm?

And, if you’ve done a sperm test (or are preparing to do a sperm test), remember that semen samples can vary from month to month – or even day to day! It takes 72 days for sperm to develop. How does this affect the semen analysis or sperm test results? If you were ill, taking medication, or had anything unusual going on three months before the sperm test, then the results may not be indicative of normal sperm count, motility, or production.

For more male fertility tips, read What Causes Unexplained Infertility in Men? Damaged DNA in Sperm.

I hope this helps you read the results of your sperm test…don’t give up on your dream of getting pregnant. I can’t offer medical advice. If you need help reading or understanding the results of your semen analysis, I encourage you to book an appointment with your urologist.

  51 Responses to “How to Understand the Results of Your Semen Analysis”

  1. Here’s information about a new male fertility test, called Trak.

    Men contribute to 50% of infertility cases and most of the time sperm count can be significantly increased through a variety of lifestyle and medical interventions. Trak is a revolutionary new platform that allows you to monitor the affect of various activities you are doing to boost sperm count and give you the best chance of getting pregnant each month.

    How Trak works

    1. Order Trak :The Trak starter kit comes with an engine, 6 disposable test props, collection cups and “Don’t Cook Your Balls – A man’s guide to reproductive and sexual health”

    2. Abstain for 2-3 days: Once Trak arrives, abstain from ejaculating for 2-3 days. This allows the body time to replenish sperm stores and gives a more accurate baseline result.

    3. Run test: Follow the simple instructions included with the kit to run the Trak test and record the result in the Trak booklet. Repeat the test after 2-3 days and record your result. Sperm counts vary day to day so it is important to test more than once per cycle to get an average.

    4. Take steps to improve fertility: Keep a record of things that you are doing to improve sperm production. Supplements, exercise, etc. Please see Don’t Cook Your Balls for a full list of things you can do.

    5. Try to make a baby: Have sex twice a week during non-fertile times and every other day during fertile window to maximize chances of conception. If possible, try to keep it fun and spontaneous as this can actually improve the number and quality of sperm in the ejaculate and boost odds of pregnancy. Regular sex also increases sperm production.

    6. Trak fertility: Test at least once a month, preferably during her period so that testing doesn’t interfere with baby making. It often takes at least 2 months to see improvements in sperm count. The more sperm you have the better your chances of conception. Average sperm count is around 50 million/mL. Chances of conception increase with more sperm up to 100 million/mL. If you are consistently below 20 million and are unable to boost count on your own, please seek out a urologist who specializes in male fertility as you may have a medical condition that is impairing sperm production.

    http://trakfertility.com/

    I don’t think this sperm test is available yet, though, and I don’t know how much it costs.

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