understanding your semen analysis

So you’ve got your results but you don’t really understand what they mean! You’re not alone.


Getting any medical results / reports usually creates a whole lot of confusion and leads most people to “google” in an attempt to decipher the medical jargon littered throughout your report (these technical words are at the bottom if you’re interested)


When it comes to a semen analysis there are really 3 main things we’re interested in:


  1. Concentration
  2. Motility
  3. Morphology


Let’s look at each in turn.


Concentration (how many sperm per ml of ejaculate)

When a man ejaculates he produces a mixture of sperm and seminal fluid (semen). The total amount of fluid is the volume of your sample. This should be between 1.5ml and 5ml.


What is then established from your sample is how many sperm are present per ml of ejaculate. This is your concentration.

The minimum figure we’re looking for here is 15million per ml.


You may also then see on your results “total sperm number” which is your concentration multiplied by your sample volume which should be greater than 39million.


Motility (how well are they moving)

Motility is a fancy way of saying “how well are they moving”. This part of the test is often broken down into several different elements. This is because sperm can be moving (but not in the right direction), moving correctly or not moving at all. Within your results you may see the terms progressive, non-progressive and immotile. Motility is always measured as a % and we’re most interested in the motile  / progressive sperm.


Progressive = moving in the right direction

Non progressive = moving but not in the right direction or going around in circles

Immotile = not moving at all


To be classed within normal range a man should have 30% or more of his sample moving in a progressive manner.


Morphology (the shape of the sperm)

Again another fancy word that just means “the shape of the sperm”. Sperm production within the testicles doesn’t seem to be a particularly efficient process and many of a man’s sperm will be a peculiar shape. It’s not uncommon for sperm to have 2 heads, 2 tails, a short tail or no tail and all manner of other problems. This part of your result is letting you know how many of your sperm are classed as “normal” shape. What’s quite shocking if you’re not expecting it is just how few of these there will be.


To be classed within the normal range you should have 4% or higher “normal” forms.


Just to spin that around on its head, that means if you’re within “normal” range 96% of your sperm will be abnormal.


In summary these are the figures you should be hoping to see as a minimum.


Summary of minimum results


Parameter

World health organisation (WHO) minimum value

Concentration

15million / ml

Motility

30% progressive

Morphology

4% normal forms



Fancy medical terms


Term

Definition

Azoospermia

No sperm in the ejaculate

Oligozoospermia

Low concentration

Asthenozoospermia

Decreased motility

Teratozoospermia

Poor morphology below 4%

Normozoospermia

All within WHO range

Polizoospermia

Exceptionally high concentration


If you’re out on any 1 of these parameters it will impact your chances of conceiving naturally or through assisted treatments. If you’re out on 2 or all 3 of these parameters then your chances of conceiving will be become even less.


What’s important when having a semen analysis is to then get a second one done a week or two later so that you’ve got a baseline for your results. If you’re still out then you need to look at why this might be happening. Certainly we’d recommend completing our free health questionnaire to see if that highlights and key factors that may be impacting your sperm health.


Lifestyle and dietary changes are definitely easy wins but if your results are particularly bad then we would suggest seeing an andrologist / urologist for further investigations. There can be other medical and genetic factors that can also impact sperm health so a thorough medical history and examination is crucial. Unfortunately this is hard to come by through the NHS so you will have to find a private andorlogist / Urologist to help you here.


Check out our support page for a few useful links.