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.
The semen analysis measures a number of parameters that effect the chances of the sperm reaching the egg. Some of the parameters are indicators of sperm production and health and others relate the the quality of the semen and its ability to help sperm along the journey to the egg.
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.
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.
# Below are the most common diagnosis’s made from the semen analysis.
§ Asthenospermia – swimmers don’t swim: Asthenospermia occurs when the testicle is making sperm but they are not swimming. Major causes of reduced motility include:varicocele , poor diet, heat exposure , obesity and toxin exposure.
§ Azoospermia – Zero sperm: Azoospermia is broken down into two camps. Obstructive, which means that there is something blocking the path and trapping sperm inside the testicle. An non-obstructive, which means that the body isn’t producing sperm to begin with. The treatment options, as you can imagine are quite different. To figure out what’s going on, a male fertility specialist may perform a physical exam, ultrasounds, blood work and perhaps a few other test to perform the exact cause. Often, due to remarkable advances in technology and medical science, there are options to enable azoospermic men to successfully father children.
§ Oligospermia – Low Sperm Count: Oligospermia means that there is a low sperm concentration in the ejaculate. Generally, this means that something is impairing the testicle’s ability to produce sperm. Learn more about low sperm count.
§ Hypospermia (semen volume under 2mL) and Aspermia (no semen): Usually indicate some sort of plumbing problem; a complete or partial blockage or a condition called retrograde ejeculation. Depending on the underlying cause there are prescription medications or surgical procedures that can help treat the issue. For more severe cases where treatment is unavailable or ineffective, a specialist can retrieve sperm from the testicle for artificial insemination or IVF.
§ Teratospermia – Abnormal morphology:Abnormal morphology means that something is interfering the the sperm maturation process that causes a high number of them to develop abnormally. Abnormal sperm can have heads that are too big or too small, two heads or two tails or they can be missing key proteins that enable them to accomplish their mission.
Your sperm will vary
§ 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.
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I hope this helps you read the results of your sperm test…don’t give up on your dream of getting pregnant.
If you need help reading or understanding the results of your semen analysis, I encourage you to book an appointment with our health expert now ....
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