Analysis of semen (seminal fluid) – spermogram

The analysis of the seminal fluid determines the amount of sperm that a man produces, as well as the quality of the sperm.

Spermogram is usually the first analysis that helps to determine if a man has problems with conception of a child (infertility). Problems with sperm are in more than one-third of couples who can not become pregnant (infertile).

The tests that can be performed during the sperm analysis include determining the following indicators:

  • Volume. It is determined how much sperm is released during one ejaculation.
  • Time of liquefaction. Sperm is a thick gel-like substance during ejaculation, which normally becomes liquid after 20 minutes after ejaculation. Liquefaction time is the time that semen is required in order to become liquid.
  • Number of spermatozoa. This is the amount of sperm that is present in a milliliter (ml) of sperm from one ejaculation.
  • Structure of spermatozoa. The percentage of spermatozoa that have a normal shape is determined.
  • Sperm motility. The percentage of spermatozoa with normal mobility is determined. The number of spermatozoa that show normal mobility in a certain amount of sperm can be limited (motor density).
  • pH. The acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of the sperm is determined.
  • The level of leukocytes. Leukocytes should not be present in normal sperm.
  • Level of fructose. The level of sugar (called fructose) in the semen is determined. Fructose provides the sperm with energy.

What is it done for?

The analysis of sperm is done in order to determine:

  • Does the man have reproductive problems that led to infertility.
  • Was there a successful vasectomy.
  • Was reverse vasectomy successful?

How to prepare

You may be asked to avoid any sexual activity, which results in ejaculation 2-5 days before the sperm is given for analysis. This helps to make sure that you have the maximum amount of sperm, and also ensures the reliability of the analysis results. If possible, do not avoid sexual activity for more than 1-2 weeks before the test, since such a long period of abstinence can make your sperm less active.

You may be asked to refrain from drinking alcohol a few days before the procedure.

Be sure to tell your doctor about medications or medicines on herbs that you take.

How it’s done

You will need to sperm for analysis, usually the eruption of sperm occurs in a clean glass. You can do this in a separate room or in the bathroom at your doctor’s clinic. If you live near the clinic, you can collect the sperm at home and bring it to the clinic for analysis.

  • The most common way of collecting sperm is masturbation with ejaculation in a glass.
  • You can also collect sperm in the process of sexual intercourse, getting the penis from the partner before ejaculation (interrupted sexual intercourse). Ejaculation should occur in a clean glass. This method can be used after a vasectomy to check the presence of sperm, but you can recommend other methods to establish the cause of infertility.
  • You can also collect sperm using a condom. If you use a conventional condom, you should thoroughly wash it out from a lubricant that can kill sperm. You can also be given a special condom that does not contain substances that kill sperm (spermicides). After ejaculation, carefully remove the condom with your hands. Tie it in a knot and put it in the container in case the condom leaks or breaks.

If you collect semen at home, a sample of semen should be delivered to the laboratory within 1 hour. Keep the sample away from sunlight, cold, or heat. If it’s cold outside, carry sperm in a container, the temperature of which is close to the temperature of your body. Do not freeze the sperm sample.

Since sperm samples are different every day, you may need to take 2-3 samples for 3 months.

The analysis of sperm to check the effectiveness of the vasectomy is usually done 6 weeks after the operation.

What do you feel

Sperm delivery should not bring you any discomfort. Ho You may be embarrassed about the way it is collected. If masturbation is contrary to your religious beliefs, discuss alternative methods of collecting sperm with your doctor.


There are no risks associated with collecting sperm for analysis.


Spermogramme determines the amount of sperm that a man produces, as well as its quality. Spermogram results are usually ready the next day. In different laboratories, normal performance may vary.


Sperm volume
Norm: 1.0-6.5 milliliters (ml) per ejaculation
Abnormality: A pathologically large or small volume of sperm can lead to fertility problems

Liquefaction time
Norm: Less than 60 minutes
Abnormality: A pathologically large dilution time may indicate an infection

Number of spermatozoa
Norm: 20-150 million spermatozoa per milliliter (ml)
0 spermatozoa per milliliter shows that the man suffered a vasectomy
Abnormality: A small amount of sperm can indicate infertility. However, this does not always mean that a man can not conceive a child. Men with a sperm count of about 1 million have become biological fathers of their children.

Form of spermatozoa (morphology)
Norm: At least 70% of spermatozoa have a normal shape and structure.
Abnormality: Spermatozoa can be pathological for several reasons: they can have 2 heads or 2 tail, short tail, a tiny head, a round (rather than an oval) head. Pathological spermatozoa can not move normally or penetrate into the egg. Usually a number of pathological spermatozoa are present in normal sperm samples. However, a large number of pathological sperm can make it impossible to conceive your own child.

Sperm motility
Norm: At least 60% of the spermatozoa show normal movement. At least 8 million spermatozoa per milliliter (ml) show normal movement.
Abnormality: Spermatozoa must move forward (or “swim”) through the cervical fluid to reach the ovum. A large number of spermatozoa that do not swim can destroy a man’s dreams of becoming a father.

PH level
Norm: sperm pH is 7.1-8.0
Abnormality: A pathologically high or low level of sperm pH kills spermatozoa or affects their ability to move and adhere to the egg.

Leukocyte count
Norm: No leukocytes or bacteria were detected.
Abnormality: The presence of bacteria or a large number of white blood cells indicates an infection.

Level of fructose
Norm: 300 milligrams (mg) of fructose per 100 milliliters (ml) of ejaculate
Abnormality: The absence of fructose in the semen indicates that the man was born without a spermatic cord or his seminal cords are plugged.

Certain diseases can be associated with low sperm count or lack of sperm. These diseases include orchitis (inflammation of the testicles), varicocele, Kleinfelter syndrome, radiation therapy of the testicles, diseases that can lead to a reduction (atrophy) of the testicles, for example, parotitis epidemics.

If a small amount or a high level of sperm pathology is detected, further examination may be prescribed. These studies may include a blood test for hormone levels, such as testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or prolactin. A testicular biopsy may be needed to further analyze the causes of low sperm count or low mobility.

What influences the result of the analysis

Factors that may affect the reliability of the results of the analysis include:

  • Medications such as cimetidine (Tagamet), male and female hormones (testosterone, estrogen), sulfasalazine, furadonin and some chemotherapeutic drugs.
  • Caffeine, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and tobacco.
  • Herbal medicines, such as St. John’s wort and a large dose of Echinacea.
  • Cooling of the sperm sample. Assessment of motility of spermatozoa will be unreliable, as they move more slowly if the sperm is cooled.
  • Radioactive exposure, some chemicals (such as pesticides or spermicides) and prolonged heat exposure.
  • Incomplete sperm sample. This is often found if the sperm is not collected by masturbation, but by other methods.
  • Lack of ejaculation for several days. This can affect the volume of sperm.

What to think about

  • Sperm collected at home should be delivered to a clinic or laboratory within 1 hour. Protect the sample from direct sunlight and do not allow it to cool. If it’s cold outside, place a sample of sperm in a container and keep it close to the body. Do not freeze the sperm sample.
  • The constant detection of spermatozoa in the sperm of a man who underwent a vasectomy means that the operation was unsuccessful and other contraceptives should be used to prevent pregnancy. A low amount of sperm can be present in a semen sample taken immediately after a vasectomy. However, in the following samples, spermatozoa should be absent.
  • A man whose mother during his pregnancy took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), has an increased risk of never becoming a father (infertile).
  • Additional tests may include donating blood to the level of hormones such as testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or prolactin. For more detailed information, read about the medical tests Testosterone, Luteinizing hormone, Follicle-stimulating hormone and Prolactin.
  • Other tests for fertility include sperm penetration, the presence of antisperm antibodies or postcoital analysis can be recommended for suspected infertility.

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