Learn the basics of a semen analysis
For the 1 in 8 couples dealing with infertility, it can be frustrating and discouraging. Mark Rispler MD and Joshua J. Berger MD, PhD provide state-of-the-art infertility diagnosis and treatment. This allows our patients to build the families they desire. Our team uses proven diagnostic tools, including semen analysis, to identify any roadblocks to pregnancy.
Understanding the basics of a semen analysis
To rule out male factor infertility, your doctor will likely order a semen analysis. Once we have the semen specimen in our Los Angeles fertility center laboratory, we will assess the sample based on the following characteristics.
Sperm count. Though it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, a normal sperm sample should contain 20 million sperm per milliliter (mL) or more per ejaculation.
Morphology. This refers to the size, shape and appearance of the sperm. Every sample will have some abnormal sperm. If more than 30% of the sperm look normal, issues shouldn’t arise.
Motility. This number identifies how well the sperm move. For conception to occur, sperm must be able to swim to reach the egg. If motility drops below 50%, problems may exist.
pH Levels. Ideally, sperm need to have an environmental pH level of 7.1-8.0. When the number is too low or too high, sperm may die. They may also be unable to penetrate an egg.
Liquefaction time. When sperm is ejaculated, it is contained in a gel like substance called semen. Before sperm can be released from the semen, the gel-like substance needs to liquefy. This usually occurs within 20 to 30 minutes after ejaculation.
White blood cells. When the sperm analysis detects white blood cells or bacteria in the specimen, an infection may be present that could hinder sperm function.
The next steps after a semen analysis
Once your doctor has reviewed the data from the semen analysis, he can make treatment recommendations. If the results are abnormal, he may suggest that your partner visit an experienced urologist, a specialist who can identify and treat issues involving the male reproductive organs. The urologist can determine whether physical blockages, hormonal deficiencies, retrograde ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, varicoceles or other problems are contributing to male infertility.
Though you may feel discouraged, we have the expertise and advanced training to treat infertility. Fertility testing such as a semen analysis can help point us in the right direction. Once your doctor has identified the cause of infertility, he can recommend the appropriate treatment, which may include medication, intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Contact our Los Angeles fertility center to schedule a consultation.