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Semen Analysis


Come back soon to view a video on the Semen Analysis Process

Come back soon to view a video in which Dr. Kuang created during research where a fluorescent microscope was used to find sperm that could survive chemotherapy treatments.

A careful quantitative and qualitative examination of your semen is the foundation upon which your male infertility evaluation is built upon. The volume, the viscosity, the color and the pH of the semen is determined. Then using a microscope, a drop of the semen is examined to count all the sperm within it. This will determine the sperm concentration, then we will see how many are moving which is the sperm motility. Finally, the sperm will be assessed for how normal they look which is called the sperm morphology. Additionally, the number of round cells is counted. This is important because if there are too many round cells, then this can be a sign of infection or inflammation that should be treated if possible.

According to the World Health Organization, the criteria for a normal semen analysis is as follows:


2.0 mL or more (As a reference point, one teaspoon is 5.0 mL)


7.2 or higher

Sperm Concentration:

More than 20 x 106 spermatozoa in every one mL of semen.

Total Sperm Count:

More than 40 x 106 spermatozoa in the whole ejaculate


More than 50% should be motile.


The head should be oval and smooth. Round, pyriform, pin, double and amorphous heads are all abnormal. The midpiece should be straight and slightly thicker than the tail. The tail should be single, unbroken, straight and without kinks or coils. A minimum of 100 sperm must be counted for a credible morphologic evaluation.

White Blood Cells:

Less than 1 x 106/mL


50% or more live.

Recently, more sophisticated tests have been developed to better assess the “health” or quality of sperm. These tests include the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA), the TUNEL assay, the Halo assay and the Comet assay. While preliminary research has suggested a correlation with these assays and outcomes with IVF, more studies are needed before we can say with certainty how they pertain to your reproductive capacity.

Collecting a Semen Sample

When you make your appointment, we ask that you abstain from ejaculation for at least 3 days. This allows us to obtain a sample on the day of your clinic visit that is representative of your reproductive potential. The primary and preferred method of collection is through masturbation in one of our private clinic rooms. If you prefer, you can actually collect it at home and bring it in within one hour. Please place the sample near your body during transit (A great place is in the front pocket of your shirt). No lubrication should be used while obtaining the sample since it can actually hurt your sperm and give us a false impression of your fertility potential.

Due to religious, cultural or personal reasons, some men are only able to obtain a semen sample through sex. If this is the case for you, please let us know and we can make special provisions for a special condom designed for this purpose.

It is standard practice to obtain a minimum of two semen analyses several weeks apart. Since men’s sperm counts can fluctuate over time, we like to base our evaluation on more than one semen sample. This allows us to more accurately assess your fertility potential.

It is possible to do your own semen analysis at home. In fact, many couples get quite good at it. You can find all the supplies you need at Amazon.

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