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Understanding Abnormal Semen Analysis: A Diagnostic Test for Male Fertility

Semen analysis is a fundamental diagnostic test used to evaluate male fertility. This test examines various parameters of a semen sample to assess and evaluate the quality and quantity of sperm. Abnormal results in a semen analysis can provide crucial insights into potential fertility issues. In this article, we will delve into the details of abnormal semen analysis, including its purpose, the testing process, the interpretation of results, and the next steps if abnormalities are detected.

What is Semen Analysis?

Semen analysis or sperm count test, is a laboratory procedure that evaluates several characteristics of a semen sample. The main parameters assessed include:

  • Sperm Count: The number of sperm present in a millilitre of semen.
  • Sperm Motility: The ability of sperm to move efficiently.
  • Sperm Morphology: The size and shape of sperm is studied.
  • Semen Volume: The whole amount of semen produced during ejaculation.
  • pH Level: The acidity or alkalinity of the semen.
  • Fructose Level: The presence of fructose, which provides energy for sperm.

Why is Semen Analysis Important?

Semen analysis is essential for identifying potential causes of male infertility. It helps in:

  • Diagnosing Infertility: Identifying issues with sperm count, motility, or morphology helps pinpoint the underlying problems affecting fertility.
  • Monitoring Treatment: Repeated semen analysis can track the effectiveness of interventions for individuals undergoing treatment for conditions like varicocele or hormonal imbalances.
  • Guiding Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART): Results from semen analysis are crucial in deciding the most appropriate ART methods, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The Semen Analysis Process

The semen analysis process involves several steps, starting from sample collection to laboratory evaluation:

1. Sample Collection:

  • The semen sample is typically collected through masturbation into a sterile container.
  • It is recommended to abstain from ejaculation for 2-5 days before the test to ensure the accuracy of the results.
  • The sample should be maintained at body temperature and given to the laboratory within one hour of collection.

2. Laboratory Evaluation:

  • Sperm Count: A microscopic examination counts the number of sperm present in a specific volume of semen.
  • Sperm Motility: Sperm movement is assessed to determine the percentage of sperm actively moving and how well they are moving.
  • Sperm Morphology: The size and shape of the sperm are evaluated under a microscope, and the percentage of typically shaped sperm is recorded.
  • Semen Volume: The total volume of the ejaculate is measured.
  • pH Level: The acidity or alkalinity of the semen is tested to ensure it falls within the normal range.
  • Fructose Level: The presence of fructose in the semen is measured, as it provides energy for sperm.

Interpreting Semen Analysis Results

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the following parameters as usual for semen analysis:

  • Sperm Count: A minimum of 15 million sperm per millilitre.
  • Sperm Motility: At least 40% of sperm should be motile.
  • Sperm Morphology: At least 4% of sperm should have a regular shape.
  • Semen Volume: 1.5 millilitres or more per ejaculation.
  • pH Level: Between 7.2 and 8.0.
  • Fructose Level: Presence of fructose in the semen sample.

Results that deviate from these standards are considered abnormal and may indicate potential fertility issues.

Causes of Abnormal Semen Analysis Results

Abnormal results in a semen analysis can be attributed to various factors, including:

  • Medical Conditions: Varicocele, infections, and hormonal imbalances can affect sperm production and quality.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, and obesity can negatively impact sperm parameters.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to toxins, chemicals, and high temperatures can damage sperm.
  • Genetic Factors: Chromosomal abnormalities and Y chromosome microdeletions can affect sperm production and function.

Next Steps After Abnormal Semen Analysis

If semen analysis results are abnormal, further evaluation and treatment may be necessary. This can include:

1. Medical Evaluation:

  • A complete medical history and physical examination is performed to identify underlying conditions.
  • Hormonal testing to check for imbalances affecting sperm production.

2. Lifestyle Modifications:

  • Recommendations to quit smoking, reduce alcohol intake, and avoid drug use.
  • Guidance on achieving a healthy weight through diet and exercise.

3. Medical or Surgical Treatments:

  • Medications to treat infections or hormonal imbalances.
  • Surgical procedures like varicocelectomy to correct varicocele.

4. Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART):

  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): This technique involves placing the sperm directly into the uterus around the time of female’s ovulation.
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Combining sperm and eggs in a lab and transferring the embryos to the uterus.
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): Injecting a single sperm directly into an egg during IVF.

Abnormal semen analysis is a diagnostic tool that can provide essential insights into male fertility issues. Understanding the causes and implications of abnormal results is important for developing an effective treatment plan. At Archish Fertility & IVF, we specialize in comprehensive fertility assessments and personalized treatment strategies to help you achieve your dream of starting a family.

If you have concerns about your fertility, contact Archish Fertility & IVF today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards understanding and addressing abnormal semen analysis.

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Dr. Ankita Gahlot

Fertility Consultant

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Dr. Anagha Nawal

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Dr. Lakshmi Kumari A

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Navin Desai

Male Fertility Expert / Embryology Head