A semen analysis lists the essential characteristics that indicate male sperm health and the potential to fertilize a female egg. Using the appropriate laboratory equipment, urologists and andrologists can conduct a detailed examination of freshly ejaculated sperm to determine male fertility. Often a semen analysis is carried out to either check the success of a surgical sterilization or infertility.
The analysis steps can be found in this short film:
Self-test semen analysis
It is possible to perform a semen analysis using a self-test at home. However, the user must closely following the instructions and be certain not to contaminate the sample, otherwise the results won’t be accurate. Also, it’s important to understand that these tests can’t assess all aspects of sperm health. Home self-tests can be the first step in identifying fertility issues. To confirm results and get a complete picture of sperm health, a detailed semen analysis by a specialist is necessary.
Normal semen analysis values (according to the World Health Organisation)
There are standard values that set the baseline for male fertility. When all the parameters are within the normal range, it is called "normozoospermia". If values fall below normal range, sub-fertility occurs i.e. impaired fertility. If measured values aren’t present (e.g. the absence of sperm motility or spermatozoa with normal appearance), the term infertility is applied.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set the standard values, although they have been revised over recent years. In 2010, some values were reduced. As a result, many results are now marked as "normozoospermia" that would have been previously classified as restricted fertile before 2010.
The standard values according to the new WHO definition are:
|Concentration of sperm||More than 15 million per ml|
|Total number of sperm||Approximately 39 million|
|Morphology (appearance)||More than 4% normal looking sperm|
|Mobility||More than 32% progressively motile sperm|
|Proportion of living sperm||At least than 50%|
|Leukozyten||Less than 1 million per ml|
"Astenozoospermie" is the term given to a condition in which sperm do not have sufficient mobility. As a result, the sperm is unable to reach the female egg.
"Oligozoospermia" is the term given to low concentrations of sperm, defined by less than 20 million sperm per millilitre of semen
Fertilization of the female egg
For natural fertilisation to occur, healthy sperm must penetrate the egg within 48 hours prior to ovulation. The process of fertilization of the female egg is explained very nicely in this short film:
7 tips that can improve male fertility
In many cases, male fertility can be improved. Reproductive physicians are largely in agreement that these behaviors can improve the semen analysis:
- Avoid exposure to extreme heat and cold. Sperm and the process of sperm production are very temperature sensitive. High temperatures, triggered for example by tight pants, seat heaters or using a laptop on the lap, can considerably affect sperm production.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Try to maintain a diet rich in antioxidants.
- Exercise regularly, although don’t overdo it.
- Avoid stress.
- Avoid nicotine and alcohol.
- Check with your doctor if any medications you are taking could negatively impact fertility and possible alternatives.
- Ensure that you regularly expose yourself to fresh air and sunlight. These are important sources of vitamin D. Half an hour of sun on your face, arms and legs each day should allow a sufficient supply of vitamin D to form.
To ensure that you receive a sufficient amount of essential vitamins, amino acids (especially L-arginine and L-carnitine) for the development of healthy sperm, it is recommended that men wanting children take fertilsan M daily.
All Videos are Copyright: Zentrum für Kinderwunschbehandlung, Gemeinschaftspraxis, Dres. med. Georg Döhmen/Thomas Schalk