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What tests are included in a basic semen analysis?

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Almost all laboratories will conduct tests and report on the following information using values established by the World Health Association:

Concentration (sometimes referred to as the "count")

This is a measurement of how many million sperm there are in each milliliter of fluid. There are various techniques for obtaining this number - some prove to be more accurate than others. Average sperm concentration is more than 60 million per milliliter (>60 million/cc). Counts of less than 20 million per milliliter (<20 million/cc) are considered sub-fertile.

Motility (sometimes referred to as the "mobility")

This describes the percentage of sperm which are moving. 50% or more of the sperm should be moving.

Morphology

This describes the shape of the sperm. The sperm are examined under a microscope and must meet specific sets of criteria for several sperm characteristics in order to be considered normal. Most commercial laboratories will report WHO morphology (i.e. use World Health Organization criterion). 30% of the sperm should be normal by these criteria.

Volume

This is a measurement of the volume of the ejaculate. Normal is 2 milliliters (2 ccs) or greater. The volume may be low if a man is anxious when producing a specimen, if all of the specimen is not caught in the collection container, or if there are hormonal abnormalities or ductal blockages.

Total Motile Count

This is the number of moving sperm in the entire ejaculate. It is calculated by multiplying the volume (cc) by the concentration (million sperm/cc) by the motility (% moving). There should be more than 40 million motile sperm in the ejaculate.

Standard Semen Fluid Tests

Color, viscosity (how thick the semen is) and the time until the specimen liquefies should also be measured. Abnormalities in the seminal fluid may adversely affect the sperm. For example, if the semen is very thick it may be difficult for the sperm to move through it and into the woman's reproductive tract.
 


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