Male Infertility Testing: Semen
When investigating the possibility of male infertility, there are a number of tests and factors that your fertility specialist will want to examine and evaluate. To help you prepare for your fertility testing, here is an overview of some of the more common male factor infertility tests as well as information on what your fertility doctor will be looking for.
The semen analysis is the most common test performed for male infertility and should always be a part of the male infertility workup. A semen analysis assesses just how well sperm has been produced and matured as well as how it interacts with the seminal fluid.
Your fertility specialist will report on the following criteria, using values that have been established by the World Health Organization.
Also referred to as the concentration, the sperm count is a measurement of how many million sperm a man has per milliliter of semen. On average, sperm count should be above 60 million/ml. Men who have less than 20 million/ml are thought to be infertile.
Sperm motility, or mobility, is an assessment of how well a man’s sperm moves. Ideally, at least 50%, preferably more though, of a man’s sperm should be active.
The shape of a sperm cell is also quite important when it comes to fertility. When examining your sperm’s morphology, your sperm cells will be examined under a microscope for certain traits. At least 30% of your sperm should meet these criteria.
Just how much a man ejaculates is also assessed. 2ml or more is the normal volume for ejaculate. However, a variety of factors can affect just how much ejaculate is provided for a semen analysis. If not all of the ejaculate is collected in the provided container or if a man gets "performance anxiety," the amount of semen collected may be less than what the man actually produces.
Various factors regarding the seminal fluid will also be evaluated. This includes the fluid’s color, viscosity and how long it takes for the semen to liquefy after ejaculation as all of these aspects can negatively impact on sperm.
Total Motile Count
This final assessment calculates the total number of motile sperm in a man’s ejaculate. To figure this out, your fertility specialist will multiply the volume of your sample by the sperm count by the percentage of motile sperm. An acceptable ejaculate should have more than 40 million motile sperm.