What is semen analysis? And, do I need it? Ask Dr. Doyle

QUESTION: I’m a guy who’s afraid I may be infertile. I’m 25, and I’ve had sex with women without protection – and no pregnancy. Can I get my semen analyzed? What are the steps?

Dr. Doyle: Certainly. Semen analysis is easily performed and available. The test evaluates many aspects of the semen, including the sperm, which comprises approximately 1 to 2 percent of the semen volume. The remainder of the fluid is composed predominantly of secretions from other male glands. These secretions are also tested, as they can also affect the sperm’s movement and function. While a normal semen analysis cannot absolutely guarantee fertility, abnormal results usually do reflect an underlying problem. Nonetheless, there are no “cutoff ” values that can definitively predict who will conceive. Generally though, men with “good” semen analysis results will usually be fertile and conceive at higher rates than those with suboptimal results.

If abnormalities are discovered in the semen analysis, further evaluation is usually helpful. For example, if complete absence of sperm is present, we perform additional testing to assess for production, blockage, hormonal problems, or other anatomical concerns. If increased white blood cell count in the semen is noted, semen cultures may be performed, and antibiotics are some-times given. Other abnormalities may suggest medical implications. In almost all instances, specialists can help determine the cause of an abnormal semen analysis, and initiate critical steps toward both revealing the cause, and defining the treatment.


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