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Semen analysis is a test to measure the amount and quality of a man's semen and sperm. Semen is the thick, white, sperm-containing fluid released during ejaculation.
The test is sometimes called a sperm count.
How the Test is Performed
You will need to provide a semen sample. Your health care provider will explain how to collect a sample.
Sample collection may involve masturbation and collecting the sperm into a sterile container. It may also be collected during intercourse by using a special condom supplied by your health care provider.
A laboratory specialist must look at the sample within 2 hours of the collection. The earlier the sample is analyzed, the more reliable the results. The laboratory specialist will look at the sample to determine the following details:
How to Prepare for the Test
Do not have any sexual activity that causes ejaculation for 2 - 3 days before the test.
How the Test Will Feel
If you are uncomfortable about how the sample is to be taken, discuss it with your health care provider.
Why the Test is Performed
Semen analysis is one of the first tests done to evaluate a man's fertility. It can help determine if a problem in sperm production or quality of the sperm is causing infertility. Approximately half of couples unable to have children have a male infertility problem.
The test may also be used after a vasectomy to make sure there are no sperm in the semen. This can confirm the success of the vasectomy.
The test may also be performed for the following condition:
A few of the common normal values are listed below.
However, how to interpret these values and other results from a semen analysis is not completely certain.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Abnormal results may suggest a male infertility problem. For example, if the sperm count is very low or very high, there is a likelihood of being less fertile. The acidity of the semen and the presence of white blood cells (suggesting infection) may influence fertility. Testing may reveal abnormal shapes or abnormal movements of the sperm.
However, there are many unknowns in male infertility. The results from the test may fail to explain the cause. If a low sperm count or abnormal semen is found, further testing may be required.
Many of these abnormalities are reversible or treatable.
There are no risks.
The use of the following may affect a man's fertility:
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