The semen evaluation is an important test for couples dealing with infertility. Although some people may think of infertility as a “woman’s problem,” in reality, in about 40 percent of infertile couples, the man is the sole cause or a contributing cause of infertility.

A semen evaluation is much easier, less invasive, and less expensive than most fertility tests for women since samples can be collected and problems identified quickly. By narrowing down the list of potential problems that are causing infertility, your doctor can more readily identify treatments that can help a couple conceive, whether that be in vitro fertilization (IVF), clearing a blocked vas deferens, or a number of other fertility treatments.

The Fertility Institute of New Orleans regularly performs semen evaluation to help couples overcome infertility. The institute, which is among the first private fertility clinics in the United States and a leader in IVF, works closely with couples so they have a complete understanding of tests and results.

Sperm Analysis

The semen evaluation test evaluates much more than just the sperm count. The analysis evaluates quality and quantity of sperm and seminal fluid to detect any issues that can impair the sperm’s ability to migrate up the fallopian tubes or penetrate the egg.  Among the aspects analyzed:

  • Concentration (Sperm Count). This is the number of sperm in each milliliter of fluid.
  • Motility. This is the percentage of sperm with movement. At least 50 percent of the sperm should be motile. Motility is further broken down by how many sperm are moving forward versus those that are not.
  • Total Motile Count. The total number of moving sperm in a sample.
  • Volume. The total amount of fluid collected in the sperm sample.
  • Morphology. This is a measure of the percentage of sperm that have a normal shape.
  • Viscosity. The thickness of the sperm fluid.
  • Liquefaction Time. Semen is typically a thick gel at the time of ejaculation. Then, generally within 20 minutes, it becomes liquid. Liquefaction time is the time it takes for the semen to liquefy.
  • pH. This is a measure of the acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of the semen.
  • White Blood Cell Count. An abundance of white blood cells in semen is abnormal and can indicate inflammation or infection.

Semen Collection

The semen sample is typically collected by masturbation in a private room at your doctor’s office. You will be given a sterile specimen cup to collect the sample. Another option is to collect the semen sample at your home and deliver it to the doctor’s office within 60 minutes.

Before producing a semen sample, you may be asked to avoid sexual activity that results in ejaculation for two to five days before a semen analysis. However, you should not avoid sexual activity for more than one to two weeks before the test because this can result in less active sperm.

Whatever method you choose, you will be given complete instructions by your doctor. Since sperm samples can vary daily, you many need to repeat the procedure at other times.