What is a semen analysis?

A semen analysis is an examination of a sample of a man's ejaculate under a microscope. The semen analysis is a standard and important part of an infertility workup. The microscopic analysis needs to take place within two hours of a man collecting the semen sample in a sterile cup or other container provided by the doctor's office. The analysis will look for the following features of normal sperm:
  • Sperm count. Forty million to 300 million is the normal range for the number of sperm per milliliter. Counts below 10 million are considered poor; counts of 20 million or more may be fine if motility and morphology are normal.
  • Motility -- the ability of the sperm to swim, and the direction and force with which they swim.
  • Morphology -- the size and shape of the sperm.
  • Total semen volume -- should be between 20 and 25 ml.
  • Fluid thickness, acidity, sugar content and how well it turns from a gel-like state to a liquid state.
Because of variations in sperm samples, two or more samples a week or more apart may be needed to get an accurate picture of semen health.

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