Normal Sperm Count: Basics on Semen Analysis

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If you have been trying to get pregnant for a while, your doctor may want to perform a semen analysis on your partner. A semen analysis will check your partner's semen to see how many sperm are in a given sample, how they are shaped, as well as checking how they move.

How is a semen analysis performed?

A semen analysis requires collecting a semen sample from your partner. You should follow your doctor's instructions on how to collect the sample. Typically, semen collection will require masturbation and collection of the semen into a sterile container. It is often collected in a lab, but if it is collected at home it needs to be transported to the lab within an hour and kept free from extreme temperatures. Keeping it at body temperature is ideal. For specific details on semen collection, please refer to your doctor or lab's protocol.

Normal Sperm Count - Normal Semen Analysis Results

Normal Sperm Count Morphology Motility 20 to 150 million/ml 40% 20%

What does sperm count mean?

Sperm count refers to the amount of sperm per milliliter of semen collected. The amount of semen per ejaculation can vary quite a bit. Anywhere from less than a milliliter to 6 or 7 milliliters is considered normal. The test will then look at how many sperm are actually in the semen. As listed above, anywhere from 20 million per milliliter to 150 million is considered normal.

What is morphology?

Morphology is referring to the shape of the sperm. The sperm will be analyzed to see how many are shaped and formed properly. Normal results are about 40% or better shaped correctly.

What is motility?

Motility describes the movement of sperm. What will be looked at is how well the sperm move. What they want to see is if sperm are moving progressively forward, not in circles or sluggishly moving sperm. A normal result is at least 20% of the sperm showing progressive movement in a forward direction.

What can I do if my partner's results are abnormal?

As long as your partner is making some sperm, there is always the chance of getting pregnant. There are quite a few things that can affect sperm count. If you find that your partner's semen analysis is abnormal you will want to see a urologist.

Causes of low sperm count - abnormal sperm count

Medications: Certain medications such as Tagament, ketoconazole, and erythromycin. Talk to your doctor about any medications including over the counter and herbal medications or vitamins you are taking.

Illness or infection: Low sperm count can be caused by something as simple as a virus or infection. If your partner has recently been ill, this could contribute to an abnormal sperm count.

Anatomical problems: There are certain conditions that can cause male factor fertility problems. One concern is a varicocele. A varicocele happens when the veins of the scrotum are swelled and dilated. It can be corrected with surgery.

Other conditions such as retrograde ejaculations (ejaculating sperm back up into the bladder instead of ejaculating outward) and hormonal imbalances can also be a cause of male infertility. Blood tests can be used to check for hormonal imbalances and retrograde ejaculations may be able to be treated as simply as using a decongestant. It is important to discuss any and all medical treatments with your doctor.

Vitamins and supplements to improve sperm count

There are several supplements suggested for use in improving male fertility. Your doctor may suggest use of a daily multivitamin or some other vitamin regimen.

Treatment options for low sperm count

Along with options to improve sperm count, other options available include IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), and male donor sperm.

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