So, you stepped up to get evaluated to see if you have an issue with male infertility. Congratulations! Kudos to you for being part of the process! Infertility is not a female issue, and it is not a male issue. Infertility is a couple’s issue, and it’s important to work together to find the solution. Most people don’t realize that when a couple is having difficulty conceiving, a male infertility factor is present in more than half of the cases. Data shows that for couples having trouble conceiving, the semen analysis results will be abnormal to some degree 50% of the time.
So, remember that having an abnormal semen analysis result is very common, and in the majority of cases it is very treatable. It’s also important to remember that having an abnormal semen analysis is not a question of your masculinity or virility; it is a medical issue!
It can be challenging for most males to understand what “abnormal” results really mean, how to interpret those findings, what may have caused them and what can be done to improve your fertility status. At Posterity Health, we specialize in male fertility and can leverage our expertise to help you understand your semen analysis results.
What is Assessed by a Semen Analysis?
A semen analysis (SA) measures several fertility factors and semen parameters. Semen analyses assess:
- The volume of semen produced in a sample
- The number of sperm present in a sample (sperm concentration or count)
- What percentage of the sperm are swimming in the sample (motility)
- What percentage of the sperm have the perfect size, shape, and proportions (morphology)
Your analysis will compare your semen sample’s parameters against the reference ranges of a “normal” sample. The results will indicate which parameters fall short of expectations.
Breaking Down Your SA Results
If you get “abnormal” SA results, it means that one or several of your semen parameters does not meet “normal” parameters. Abnormalities obviously vary across each parameter and can have unique implications, causes, and treatments. Let’s break down your semen analysis results in more granular detail.
Low Semen Volume
This is a measurement of your ejaculate and how much “stuff” comes out when you orgasm. Normal semen volumes typically exceed 1.5 mL. If your results fall under that mark, it may be that given the circumstances of trying to provide a sample, you may not have done a complete collection, or some of the fluid just didn’t make it into the container.
If low volume persists, then it may be an indicator of an issue with partial blockage or incomplete development of some of the tubes which produce or transport the semen. Remember, the vast majority of the fluid of the ejaculate is made by the prostate and seminal vesicles. Sperm make up less than 5% of the total volume of the ejaculate.
A low semen volume could be caused by many health issues like varicocele and hormone imbalances, but environmental causes (e.g., exposure to industrial chemicals, radiation, etc.) can also affect semen production.
Low Sperm Concentration
Your sperm concentration measures the number of sperm per millimeter of ejaculate. Normal concentrations range from 15-200 million/mL. The medical term for having low sperm concentrations is oligospermia. Azoospermia refers to the absence of any sperm in the ejaculate.
Low sperm concentrations can be caused by a variety of issues including genetic abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, varicoceles, and environmental factors.
Poor Sperm Motility
Motility refers to your sperm’s ability to swim. If your semen analysis results indicate poor sperm motility, that means their ability to progressively swim is impaired.
Sperm motility is one of the most important factors that’s checked via a semen analysis because this parameter affects your sperm’s ability to reach the egg and fertilize it. In addition, sperm motility is also an overall measure of your sperm health and its viability.
There are a variety of factors which can influence sperm motility results, and fortunately, such abnormalities can commonly be improved.
Poor Sperm Morphology
We’re all familiar with that classic sperm shape. But abnormalities can occur, and defects can develop on sperm heads, neck pieces, and in the tails. Most people are surprised to learn that only 4% of the sperm are supposed to look absolutely normal.
It is possible for abnormally shaped sperm to fertilize an egg (NIH). However, higher amounts of these sperm cells can cause infertility issues. The take home message is simple: those with a normal morphology result have a better chance of success.
Abnormal sperm shapes can be caused by a variety of factors including DNA/genetic traits, chemical exposure, presence of a varicocele, smoking, marijuana use, certain medications, and more. Fortunately, sperm morphology can frequently be improved with medical intervention.
Get The Facts on Your Fertility with Posterity Health
Have you received an abnormal semen analysis and want more information on what it means and how it can be improved? Are you unsure about your current fertility status and what to get it assessed? Then you’ve come to the right place.
Posterity Health is a digital male fertility clinic with one goal: to help you and your partner conceive. We offer a variety of male fertility services to evaluate, improve, and preserve your fertility status and help you reach your family planning goals.
Many individuals find it awkward to collect a semen sample in the laboratory setting. Fortunately, we now offer a very reliable at-home semen analysis kit which allows for the sample to collected in the privacy and comfort of your own home.