Pregnancy does not always happen as quickly as people may like, but if couples have been unable to conceive after a year of trying, there may be underlying fertility issues. To determine the best way to move forward, individuals who are struggling to conceive should schedule a fertility evaluation.
A fertility evaluation examines both male and female fertility factors. A key aspect of the male fertility evaluation process is semen analysis. Semen analysis evaluates sperm characteristics to determine if there are any abnormalities. Here, fertility doctors from the Los Angeles Reproductive Center, which serves Encino, Bakersfield, and Los Angeles, CA, prepare patients for what to expect from a semen analysis, and the type of information it may provide.
Providing a Sample for Semen Analysis
Male patients must provide a sperm sample for semen analysis. To ensure that males are able to provide a successful sample, there are some important preparation and collection tips to follow:
- Abstain from masturbation or sexual activity for at least two to five days prior to providing the sample.
- Refrain from consuming alcohol or caffeine prior to providing the sample (certain medications may also need to be avoided - our doctors will advise patients in this regard).
- Keep the collected sample at room temperature.
- Deliver the collection to our office within 30 minutes to one hour.
Key Sperm Characteristics
Semen analysis evaluates four sperm characteristics that play a vital role in conception: volume, sperm concentration/count, motility, and morphology.
- Volume - Volume refers to the amount of liquid that is released during ejaculation. Ideally, men should release between 1.5 and 4 ml of fluid during ejaculation. Less fluid could mean that less sperm is released, and more fluid could mean that sperm is diluted.
- Sperm concentration/count - The normal range for sperm count is around 15 to 20 million sperm per millimeter of semen. When sperm count is low it can be more difficult to conceive.
- Motility - Motility refers to how sperm moves. Around 40 percent of the sperm in a collection sample should be moving. If sperm are not moving properly they will have a difficult time reaching an egg, which can directly interfere with conception.
- Morphology - When evaluating morphology our doctors are examining the shape of the sperm. Although abnormally shaped sperm can still fertilize an egg, a high number of abnormal sperm could indicate a problem.
What if I Receive Abnormal Results?
Abnormal sperm analysis results does not mean that patients will not be able to conceive a child. In fact, analysis results provide our fertility specialists with information that should help increase the likelihood of conception, because it allows them to create an appropriate treatment plan. Depending on the results of a semen analysis, and the results of additional fertility testing, we may recommend that patients consider intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and/or fertility treatment with a sperm donor.
If you and your partner have been unable to conceive after a year or more of trying we encourage you to consider a fertility evaluation with the doctors at the Los Angeles Reproductive Center. To schedule an appointment, contact our clinic online, or call (661) 889-5173.