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What is a Semen Analysis?

EspermatozoidesA semen analysis is the first test carried out on males and is used to obtain a diagnosis of male fertility. With this analysis we can evaluate sperm motility, sperm morphology and sperm production in the testicles. Furthermore, we can analyse whether or not the prostate and seminal vesicles are functioning properly.

The aim of this analysis is to determine whether or not the male plays a role in the couple’s infertility. The semen analysis must be carried out before the gynaecologist can fully diagnose the couple and decide which assisted reproductive technology best suits them.

The semen analysis involves analysing both the quantity and quality of the sperm, both micro and macroscopically. The following parameters are evaluated:

  • Macroscopic parameters: volume, colour, appearance, pH, viscosity, elasticity and liquefaction time.
  • Microscopic parameters: Total number of sperm, sperm concentration, type of motility, morphology, presence of sperm clusters, and types and quantity of other non-sperm cells that are present in the semen.
  • Furthermore, biochemical and immunological parameters regarding the ejaculate are also evaluated.

According to the results obtained with the semen analysis and reference values from the World Health Organisation from 2010, the physician will diagnose the sperm sample given. In order to fully evaluate the couple’s fertility map, the gynaecologist will need to evaluate the results obtained from the semen analysis.

Sperm Capacitation

An additional study to analyse semen is the Sperm Capacitation test. This test involves removal of the sperm’s plasma membrane and retrieval of the sperm which have the best motility and the greatest chances of fertilising the egg. The sperm are then kept in a suspension rich in nutrients and the gynaecologist performs a sperm count to determine how many are motile. The number of motile sperm obtained in this test helps the gynaecologist in choosing which assisted reproductive technology is most appropriate for the couple.