Infertility and Sperm Testing
When couples have trouble conceiving after six to 12 months of trying, it may be time to undergo fertility testing. For men, the semen analysis test is performed to determine if low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or any other issues involving the sperm are present. Once we receive the results of the semen analysis, the specialists at our Los Angeles fertility center can formulate a treatment plan that addresses you and your partner's specific infertility problems.
How to Prepare for the Semen Test
Men should avoid any type of sexual activity for two to five days before the semen sample is collected. Prior to this "dry" period, men should regularly ejaculate to produce an ideal sample.
The day of your semen sample appointment, you should ejaculate into a sample cup provided by your doctor's office or the lab facility. The sample can be collected at home or in the doctor's office. If you elect to collect the sample at home, you will need to drop off the sample soon after it was collected. A complete sample will need to be collected to produce accurate results.
Factors that Can Affect the Results of the Semen Test
There are a number of factors that can affect a man's semen sample, including:
- Certain medications
- The use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs
- Certain herbal medications
- Excessive use of a spa or sauna
- Exposure to chemicals and radiation
- A period of low sexual activity before the sample is provided
What Is Analyzed?
- Sperm count: The contents of the semen collection will be analyzed to measure sperm count. Normal sperm count is generally in the range of 20 to 150 million of sperm per milliliter of semen. Patients with less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen are considered to have low sperm count.
- Sperm motility: Sperm motility refers to the movement of sperm. At least 50 percent of sperm should exhibit normal forward movement after one hour.
- Semen volume: The total volume of the fluid that is collected will be measured. The normal amount of semen that is released during a single ejaculation is 1.5 to 5.0 milliliters.
- Sperm shape: Sperm can be abnormally shaped, which inhibits its ability to move forward and penetrate the egg. At least 30 percent of sperm should be normally shaped.
- pH level: The pH test measures the acidity of the sperm. Normal semen should have a pH level of 7.1 to 8.0.
For many of our patients in Los Angeles, IVF treatment is performed to help couples conceive, even if they suffer from sperm issues or unexplained infertility. With IVF, or in vitro fertilization, egg and sperm samples are collected from the male and female. The egg and sperm are then exposed to one another, in a laboratory setting, under ideal fertilization conditions. If an embryo forms and remains viable in the advanced blastocyst phase, the embryo (or embryos) may be transferred to the uterus. If one or more of the embryos implants, it may result in a successful pregnancy.
To learn more about the semen analysis test and fertility treatments, contact The Center for Fertility and Gynecology.