Questions about male fertility can be answered with semen analysis

If you and your partner are having difficulty conceiving a child, and you are male, you may want to have a semen analysis to help determine the cause. Main Line Health offers semen analysis to help diagnose low sperm count or sperm dysfunction, both causes of male infertility. You may also need semen analysis if you had a vasectomy to be sure that no sperm are left in your semen.

How semen analysis works

If you are having semen analysis, you will need to ejaculate three days before your appointment and then abstain from any sexual activity until after your appointment. Most men choose to provide the semen sample at the location of the analysis; however, if you decide to bring the sample from home, it must arrive at the laboratory within one hour of collection.

After you have provided a sample for semen analysis, a laboratory specialist will view the semen under a microscope. The semen is examined for:

  • Quality
  • Quantity
  • Volume, in milliliters
  • Concentration in millions of sperm per milliliter
  • Motility (percent of sperm that are moving)
  • Morphology (percent of sperm that are normally shaped)

After semen analysis, your doctor will receive a report from the laboratory so you can decide next steps.

Semen analysis and your fertility

If you are diagnosed with low sperm count or sperm dysfunction, it does not necessarily mean you can’t have children.

Depending on the quality and quantity of your sperm, you may choose artificial insemination, which results in a greater chance of pregnancy because the sperm does not have to swim past the vagina. Based on your results, you may also decide to use sperm that has been donated. When sperm is used from an anonymous donor, the process is called therapeutic donor insemination.