Also called a spermiogram. Serves for evaluating certain characteristics of semen and the sperm contained therein. It is often done to help evaluate male fertility.
A semen analysis, which might also be called a semen assessment in some private fertility clinics, is a test conducted to analyse the sperm found in a semen sample. They are carried out in order to help a doctor or a fertility specialist uncover the reasons someone might be experiencing problems related to fertility and conceiving.
You may already be familiar with the concept of having a low sperm count, and this is something that a semen analysis or assessment can test for. However, this is not everything the test is designed to look for. It can also test the morphology of the sperm (which means it will check the shape of the individual cells), and their motility (how well they move along). Narrowing down and managing to specify the issue is often key to finding out the cause of a couple’s infertility issues.
For patients who are male, or are non-binary or transgender but were born male, and are finding it hard to conceive naturally, it is likely that a semen analysis will be one of the first tests ordered and conducted to check fertility when they see their GP.
To begin, a patient will be asked to abstain from intercourse, or from any other form of ejaculation, for around 2 to 4 days prior to the assessment. You may also be advised to avoid alcohol during this time.
Fluid samples will normally be produced in the privacy of a room at the patient’s chosen clinic, via masturbation. The sample will then be collected for the assessment to take place.
After the sample has been taken, a specialist will normally analyse the sample for a number of different factors and parameters, including the ones we have already mentioned above. Any of these may point to a problem with a person’s fertility, or their ability to conceive naturally. Some factors may also indicate male infertility as a whole, though this will not always be the case.
As well as count, motility, and morphology, specialists should also check the concentration of sperm in semen when conducting this analysis. In addition to all of this, they are also likely to check the fluid itself for anti-sperm antibodies. These are antibodies produced by a body which are directed against sperm cells, and can arise whenever sperm cells encounter a person’s immune system. This is often a contributing factor in subfertility.
By performing a semen analysis, specialists should be able to predict a person’s chances of conceiving naturally. They should also be able to highlight any potential underlying issues that a person may have, and which may currently be contributing to their fertility issues.
Most experts will recommend that two tests are conducted 2 to 3 months apart, in order to return the most accurate results.
A patient’s part in the procedure should only take a few minutes, though they may have to wait longer for the results to come back from a laboratory. It may take 24 hours for the results to be ready, and they should be returned to the patient within a week.
The Analysis Results
If your results are returned and they show that there is a problem, a specialist will be able to guide you through the next possible steps. This includes offering a range of treatment options that may still allow you and your partner to conceive.
If your results are returned and they show that your collected sperm is normal, but you find that you are still having trouble conceiving, then a specialist may be able to offer advice on changing your lifestyle. These may help to improve your chances of conceiving naturally.