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Semen Analysis

What is semen analysis

While a positive post-coital test result will indicate that the sperm count is normal, an analysis of the semen itself is the most basic test that can be carried out on your husband. 

How is the test carried out

A semen sample will be collected by asking your husband to masturbate directly into a special sterile container. There is no point trying to collect a sample by withdrawal at intercourse as some of the initial part of the ejaculate is lost. Transferring a sample from a condom does not help either as most sheaths these days contain a potent spermicide. Some specialists recommend that you abstain from intercourse for a few days before the sample is collected. However, others feel that it is better to follow your normal pattern of intercourse. The semen sample should be  kept warm and should be delivered to the laboratory for testing within one hour of production.  After the sample volume has been measured, the following calculations are carried out.

  • The number of sperm per milliliter (ml).
  • The percentage of sperm showing normal forward progressive movements (motility).
  • The percentage of abnormal sperm. 

What are the indications for normal semen

A normal semen analysis will show:

  • A volume greater than 2 ml.
  • A count of more than 30 million sperm per ml
  • A motility greater than 60% within one hour of production 
  • An abnormality rate of less than 25%

What if the semen analysis results are not normal

If your husband's semen analysis falls short of the figures given above, it does not imply that a pregnancy will be unlikely. Different samples from your husband will show different results. This is why a reduced semen analysis will always be checked with 1 or 2 repeat tests. Changes in his general health 10 weeks before the collection of the sample can affect the sperm count and motility. . For example, if he has had an illness like 'flu, it can reduce both the count and motility in a sample produced 10 weeks later, as this is the time taken for sperm to reach maturity. A repeat sample tested after an additional 2-3 months could very well be normal.

What will the results of the semen analysis tell me

If your husband has a good quality semen sample with a count of 10 million per ml and your own fertility is normal, then statistically it will take up to 6 years for you to become pregnant. If this count is 20 million per ml and of good quality it will take up to 3 years, and at 30 million per ml a pregnancy should occur within a year. But keep in mind that these are generalizations that cannot be blindly applied to every couple. The quality of the semen is always more important than the quantity of sperm per ml.

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