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Understanding an abnormal semen analysis

Our DFW fertility doctors use semen analysis to determine whether sperm will have difficulty fertilizing an egg.

An abnormal semen analysis indicates that it may be more difficult for hopeful parents to conceive without the help of fertility treatments. However, the results can also help our physicians design individualized treatment plans to help couples overcome male infertility.

Understanding semen analysis results

Abnormalities in sperm production or function cause approximately 40% of infertility cases. If a couple is struggling to conceive, a semen analysis can determine why by looking at a number of aspects of a man’s sperm, such as sperm count, motility (movement) and morphology (shape).

To help hopeful parents understand whether the male partner has a normal or abnormal semen analysis, our DFW fertility doctors offer the following guidelines:

Sperm count, or sperm concentration, is the number of sperm present in a milliliter of semen. A normal sperm count is 15 million per milliliter.

Sperm morphology refers to sperm shape. Utilizing the Kruger Strict criteria 4% of sperm are to be of normal shape. Normally shaped sperm are more likely to penetrate and fertilize an egg.

Sperm motility the percentage of sperm with forward movement. At least 40% of sperm should be able to swim forward. Forward-swimming sperm are more likely to reach an egg for fertilization.

Semen volume is the total amount of fluid in a sample. A normal semen volume is between 1.5 milliliters and 5 milliliters.

Total motile sperm count is the total number of moving sperm in a semen sample. Our andrologists will multiply the semen volume by the sperm count, and multiply that number by the percentage of motile sperm. There should be at least 9 million motile sperm in a semen sample.

Semen analysis also looks at the viscosity, or thickness of the fluid, and the number of leukocytes, or white blood cells, in the sample. Low or moderate viscosity is considered normal in a semen sample. A normal sample should also have no more than one million leukocytes per milliliter. A higher amount indicates inflammation or an infection, which may require treatment with antibiotics or a referral to a urologist for further evaluation.

What happens after an abnormal semen analysis?

After hopeful parents receive an abnormal semen analysis, our DFW fertility doctors will work with them to develop an effective, individualized treatment plan. Some common treatment options include intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) with or without intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our DFW fertility doctors to learn more about abnormal semen analysis and treatments for male infertility.