The chances of getting pregnant depend equally on the fertility of a woman and her partner. Although this is still a taboo subject for many men, it is worth knowing that the quality of semen has a huge impact on the possibility of conception and the health of the future offspring. We suggest what parameters are measured to check male fertility and what value indicates its appropriate level.
In order to assess the reproductive health of a father-to-be it is a good idea to perform a general semen test. This is a basic test that allows you to analyze the number, quality and viability of sperm. Doctors interpret the results based on reference standards developed and published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010. The test requires a sample (obtained through masturbation) to be submitted to a laboratory for analysis. If the standards are met, this generally indicates normal male fertility.
What are the normal semen parameters?
First, the sample itself is evaluated. Its volume is taken into account – it should be about 1.5 ml (to be precise, between 1.4 and 1.7 ml). Both a smaller and a larger volume may indicate an abnormality. Semen color (milky-white, iridescent) and its smell (specific) are also evaluated.
Most often, based on computer methods, it is determined:
– number of sperm – it should be above 39 million in the sample, – concentration of sperm – above 15 million per milliliter, – viability – above 58% of live sperm, – percentage of sperm moving in a progressive motion – above 32% – sperm motility (total) – above 40% – percentage of sperm with normal structure – above 4%.
If the test reveals abnormalities in any of the parameters it is worth consulting a doctor. Sometimes, it may be advisable to perform additional diagnostics and, for example, a more detailed assessment of the structure of sperm, analysis of the quality of genetic material (so-called sperm DNA fragmentation), hormonal testing, etc.
How to prepare for a semen test?
It is worth remembering that a semen test should be performed after about 2-7 days of sexual abstinence (optimally after a period of 2-3 days). Both too short a period since the last ejaculation and too long abstinence can influence the test parameters. The sample is passed through masturbation into a sterile container (as for a urine test). It is important that it contains all the material obtained. The sample should reach the laboratory within 30-45 minutes at the latest. Many fertility clinics allow sperm donation on site, in a special intimate room, but you can also do it at home and bring the material for analysis. It is worth remembering that the result may be affected by an active or recent infection so after a cold or illness accompanied by a fever you should wait a few weeks before taking the test.
The test provides a lot of valuable information about male fertility. It is worth considering a test before you start trying, as well as taking care of good hygiene. A balanced diet, sport, healthy sleep, avoiding stimulants and chronic stress are natural allies in the health of men who are planning to become a father.
See the WHO document: https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/infertility/cooper_et_al_hru.pdf