The Importance of a Semen Analysis in the Male Infertility Workup
A semen analysis is a laboratory test that looks at the number, shape, and movement of
sperm, among other things. It is usually the first step in figuring out why a man can't have children. It can also be used to see how well treatments for male infertility are working. Usually, a semen analysis is done on a sample of sperm that has been collected by masturbation and looked at under a microscope. The different parameters are then measured and reported.
The semen analysis looks at many different parameters, including volume, the concentration of sperm, % motility, total motility, and % normal morphology. A semen analysis should be performed at an andrology laboratory.
How is Semen Analysis Done?
Here is an overview of how a semen analysis is typically done:
Semen Sample Collection: A sterile container is given to the man so he can collect a sample of his sperm. He is usually asked to abstain from ejaculation for 2–5 days before the test to ensure an adequate sample.
Preparation of Semen Sample: Once the sample is collected, it is kept at body temperature and allowed to liquefy for about 20–30 minutes.
Analysis of Semen Sample: The sample of sperm is then looked at for a number of different things, such as:
Semen volume: The total amount of semen produced.
Sperm count: The number of sperm present in the semen sample.
Sperm motility: The percentage of sperm that are swimming actively and forward.
Sperm morphology: The shape and size of the sperm.
pH: The acidity or alkalinity of the semen.
White blood cell count: The number of white blood cells present in the semen, which can indicate infection or inflammation.
Results and Interpretation: Once the analysis is done, a report is made with the results of the different measurements. A doctor or fertility specialist will look at the results and use them to figure out if there are any problems with the man's ability to have children.
It's important to note that semen analysis results can vary from one sample to another, and multiple tests may be needed to get an accurate assessment of a man's fertility.
Most andrology laboratories have a “Collection Room” where patients can collect samples on-site. If a patient prefers, they can use a special condom provided by the Lab and have intercourse. The condom can then be removed with the semen inside and placed inside the cup.
How should I Prepare for Semen analysis?
To prepare for a semen analysis, it's important to follow these guidelines:
Abstain from ejaculation for 2-5 days before the test. This means avoiding any sexual activity, including masturbation.
Inform your healthcare provider of any medications, supplements, or herbal remedies you are taking, as some may affect your test results.
Avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine, or smoking tobacco for at least 48 hours before the test.
Ensure that the sample is collected in a clean, sterile container provided by your healthcare provider.
The sample should be collected through masturbation, as this provides the most accurate results.
The sample should be delivered to the laboratory within one hour of collection and should be kept at body temperature during transport.
If you're concerned about discomfort or embarrassment during the collection process, talk to your healthcare provider. They may be able to provide suggestions or alternatives that can help make the process more comfortable.
Remember that the accuracy of your semen analysis results can be affected by many factors, including diet, exercise, and overall health. So, it's important to follow your healthcare provider's instructions carefully and to be honest about any lifestyle factors that may affect your test results.
How long does it take to get results?
The time it takes to get results from a semen analysis can vary depending on the laboratory and healthcare provider you are working with. In general, you can expect to receive your results within a few days to a week after the sample is collected. But some labs might be able to give you the results the same day or within 24 hours.
It's a good idea to ask your healthcare provider about their specific timeline for providing results, as well as any steps you can take to expedite the process or follow up if results are delayed. Additionally, if you have any questions or concerns about your results, it's important to follow up with your healthcare provider to discuss your options and next steps.
What happens if my semen analysis is abnormal?
If the results of your sperm analysis aren't normal, your doctor will probably talk to you about them and suggest more tests or ways treat you. The specific course of action will depend on the specific abnormalities identified in your semen analysis as well as any other factors that may be contributing to fertility issues.
Some potential next steps may include:
Additional testing: Your doctor may suggest that you get more tests to find out what's causing the problems with your semen analysis. This may include blood tests, imaging studies, or other diagnostic procedures.
Lifestyle changes: Certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, or poor diet, can affect semen quality. Your doctor may suggest that you make changes to your lifestyle to improve the quality of your sperm and your overall fertility.
Medications or supplements: Your healthcare provider may suggest medications or supplements to improve the quality of your sperm or treat any underlying health problems, depending on what problems were found in your sperm analysis.
Assisted reproductive techniques: In some cases, intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be suggested to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Remember that every person and situation is different, and the specific steps your doctor will tell you to take will depend on your specific situation. It's important to have open and honest communication with your healthcare provider and to ask questions if you have any concerns or uncertainties about your treatment options.
What Do I Do If I Want To Have A Semen Analysis?
A semen analysis is a lab test that must be ordered by a physician or provider. A male patient can go to their primary care doctor or urologist to have it ordered. When a couple sees a fertility doctor, this is part of the initial workup, so the fertility doctor will order this test. If youneed a semen analysis and would like to see a fertility doctor, you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Lindsay Wells or Dr. Nicole Ulrich at Audubon Fertility.