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Understand your fertility better with a sperm analysis

Understand your fertility better with a sperm analysis

Fertility tests give your fertility specialist, and you, more insight into your fertility options and overall health.

Fertility tests give your fertility specialist, and you, more insight into your fertility options and overall health.

Your fertility is dependent on a variety of factors that will change depending on your unique circumstances and health.

 

Conducting the necessary tests is the best way to investigate your fertility and glean accurate results.

This is one of the first steps your fertility specialist will direct you to after your initial consultation. Whether or not you have plans for the immediate future, a sperm analysis will arm you with the information you need to know exactly what your options are or take steps to enhance your fertility with the advice of your doctor.


There are seven primary factors that go into the semen analysis process carried out by our experienced embryologists, they are:

Your fertility is dependent on a variety of factors that will change depending on your unique circumstances and health.

 

Conducting the necessary tests is the best way to investigate your fertility and glean accurate results.

This is one of the first steps your fertility specialist will direct you to after your initial consultation. Whether or not you have plans for the immediate future, a sperm analysis will arm you with the information you need to know exactly what your options are or take steps to enhance your fertility with the advice of your doctor.


There are seven primary factors that go into the semen analysis process carried out by our experienced embryologists, they are:

Our process

Our process

1. Macroscopic evaluation

This step is mainly a visual inspection of the sperm sample after it is measured out. 

The appearance is first evaluated through its colour. White, or off-white, and a translucent quality that allows light to pass through it.

The visual appearance of semen also changes over time. Soon after ejaculation, for instance, semen is semi-liquid and viscous. This makes it more challenging for sperm to make its way through.

Roughly ten minutes later, however, a process called liquefaction, which is very much like reverse blood clotting takes place, which makes the sample take on a more liquid form.

This process can be either complete or incomplete. Incomplete liquefaction may not necessarily signify infertility but it gives us an indication of how organs like your seminal vesicles or prostate are functioning.

At this stage, the pH of your sample is also measured to ensure that your alkaline levels are ideal. A more acidic sample with a lower pH than the ideal level could point to issues in the seminal vesicles.

2. Microscopic evaluation

The sperm sample is now observed under a microscope.

This will reveal:

  • The possible presence of cellular debris
  • If sperm can swim freely 
  • If sperm is agglutinated and clumped together

Depending on the amount of debris that is spotted, this can most likely be disregarded.


If agglutination is high, however, this may have an adverse effect on fertility. Both these factors can indicate infection or some kind of trauma but other factors will play a role in deciding this.

3. Sperm count

This is perhaps a more well-known part of the sperm analysis process.


It generally refers to the number of sperm in every millimetre of semen or the concentration of your sperm. Your sperm count will be calculated by multiplying the volume of your sperm with the concentration. 

Here’s a breakdown of some of the terms that may come in handy during your analysis. 


Minimum sperm concentration: The concentration that falls within the normal range is 15 million per millilitre 


Oligozoospermia: This is when the concentration in your sample is lower than 15 million per millilitre 

Hypospermia: This is when the volume of your sperm is lower than 1.5 millilitres


These counts make it clear that there is an enormous number of sperm in any fertility journey, especially when you consider the fact that it only takes a single spermatozoon to fertilise an egg. It’s important to keep in mind that the sheer volume of sperm means that even a low sperm count does not spell infertility. It may just lower the chances of conceiving in the short term.

4. Motility

This part of the examination yields the most useful results in terms of understanding your fertility outcomes.

 

The best sperm are the ones that are motile and progressive, which means, in simple terms, that they are swimming in a straight line. Total motility refers to the percentage of sperm that swim actively while progressive motility refers to the forward progress of sperm as it swims.

 

Statistically speaking, the normal fertile range for total motility is 40% and upwards, and progressive motility is a little lower at 32%.

 

Poor motility is known as asthenozoospermia, but with modern medicine, it doesn’t need to mean that you can’t conceive. ICSI techniques can inject sperm directly into an egg so even samples that show zero motility may still lead to a successful and healthy pregnancy.

5. Morphology 

This factor may seem simplistic but the World Health Organisation (WHO) has put down strict criteria that can complicate this area.


All morphology means is the shape of your sperm and its structure. This part of the analysis will measure the amount of normal sperm you have against the amount that may present defects.

 

Because the criteria are so strict, however, often only a very small percentage of sperm can be technically defined as normal. If as little as 4% of the sperm checks all the boxes to be defined as a normal sperm, then the entire sample is deemed normal.

 

Despite not being defined as normal, these abnormal sperm may still function normally. Even if they don’t, however, there are still certain options we can explore. Because the average sperm sample contains 100 million sperm, if just 4% of this amount is normal, that leaves 4 million sperm.

6. Vitality

When ICSI is being considered or low sperm motility has been recognised, this test is useful to measure the amount of live sperm to the amount that is dead. 


Live sperm are the ones that are swimming actively, but distinguishing dead sperm from those that are immotile is measured by mixing a dye into an amount of the sample. The dye is only able to enter dead cells and dye them blue, allowing the embryologist to tell them apart.

 

The normal range begins at 58% vitality, and when vitality is lower than this amount it is medically known as necrozoospermia. Your fertility specialist will be able to guide you to the best fertility treatment option for you, even if you do report lower sperm vitality. 

7. Antisperm antibodies

There are a few cases in which your body produces antibodies against its own sperm as a result of testicular injury, biopsy or the reversal of a vasectomy. This is primarily because your sperm and testis normally never come into contact with your immune system.

 

The MAR test can detect antisperm antibodies. Any value less than 10% shows that your body does not contain these antibodies. While the WHO has stated that a value of 50% shows a body that does contain antisperm antibodies that can affect fertility, more research is needed to solidify what constitutes a positive result.

 

Even the presence of antisperm antibodies can, however, be overcome with IVF or ICSI cycles.

Stay informed

Have questions about what your sperm analysis means?

Depending on your circumstances, the questions you have before choosing this procedure will differ, but here are the answers to the most common questions you may have at this time.

Stay informed

Have questions about what your sperm analysis means?

What is the normal volume of a sperm sample?

The volume of each sample ranges between 1.5–5.0 millilitres.

What is the ideal pH of a sample?

pH 7.2 or higher is considered a healthy, normal level of alkaline.

What are my options if my sperm is not of the best quality?

Sperm can be prepped and enhanced to perform at their best in a laboratory. As long as there is sperm, there is a chance that a healthy pregnancy can be achieved with the right support.

Can sperm be motile but not progressive?

Yes. Sperm may swim actively but may just be spinning around or circling instead of swimming straight, or progressively. This means this sperm may not reach the egg, which would make them motile but not progressive.

How is abnormal sperm measured?

The condition in which you produce abnormally shaped sperm is called teratozoospermia. These abnormalities are classed as head, midpiece, or tail defects. As we discussed, however, this may not necessarily indicate anything about the overall health of your sperm.

What’s next?

Continuing your fertility journey after investigating your fertility 

What’s next?

Continuing your fertility journey after investigating your fertility

When you consult an itrust fertility expert, you will access hands-on guidance on the best steps to take on your fertility journey based on your health, circumstances, and needs.

When you consult an itrust fertility expert, you will access hands-on guidance on the best steps to take on your fertility journey based on your health, circumstances, and needs.

Find out more

Schedule an appointment

Find out more

Schedule an appointment

The work we do at itrust fertility is only possible because of our team of dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced specialists.


From our clinical team and anaesthetists to our core management team, we make sure we live up to the trust you place in us every step of the way.

The work we do at itrust fertility is only possible because of our team of dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced specialists.


From our clinical team and anaesthetists to our core management team, we make sure we live up to the trust you place in us every step of the way.

Fill out the form or call our clinics at:

Fill out the form or call our clinics at:

Eastbourne and Brighton

Eastbourne and Brighton

Kent

Kent

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