A semen analysis or sperm test, also known as seminogram or semenogram, is a diagnostic test which purpose is to evaluate the quality of sperm. Thanks to it, the specialist can assess various macroscopic parameters, including the pH and volume of the semen, as well as microscopic, like the sperm morphology, sperm motility, and sperm count.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has established reference values to determine what are normal results for a semen analysis report. Based on these guidelines and the results obtained, we can look for the presence of abnormalities that may lead to male infertility, and anticipate what are a man’s chances of achieving pregnancy.
The various sections of this article are assembled in the following table of contents.
Instructions & preparation
For the results of a semen analysis to be accurate, the WHO recommends patients to abstain for 3 to 5 days before the analysis. This includes any form of ejaculation, whether it is sexual intercourse or masturbation.
To obtain a reliable result and be able to get a reliable diagnosis of male infertility, it is recommended to undergo a second semen analysis within one month after the first to check if the result is the same or varies. Sometimes, certain environmental or lab conditions can lead to abnormal sperm test results, and qualify a man as infertile when he’s actually not.
How to collect sperm for analysis
Semen vials are collected by means of masturbation, after washing your hands and genitalia adequately. Your fertility clinic will provide you with a sterile sample cup for you to ejaculate directly into it.
It is crucial to collect the entire specimen. Most men feel uncomfortable or are nervous providing the semen sample, and this may cause a portion of the sample to spill, especially the first fraction.
If you lose part of the semen or any portion spills, the results of your semen analysis won’t representative, and the test will be considered invalid. You should notify the lab technician if this happens and book an appointment to collect your semen anew.
Ideally, the sample should be collected at the fertility clinic in order to prevent environmental factors to alter the sample. However, many clinics offer their patients the possibility of collecting the specimen at home and dropping it off directly at the lab, as long as it occurs within the next 30 minutes following ejaculation.
If you prefer to collect the specimen at home, you should take special care of the sample until you get to the clinic or lab by keeping it under adequate temperature and light conditions. Keep the sterile container in a pocket, close to your body, covered in a aluminum foil to avoid exposure to sunlight.
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