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Fertility Work Up- Semen Testing

Semen diagnostic testing early in fertility assessment at our Los Angeles area infertility treatment center can help our fertility specialists better determine the treatment options that are best suited for each couple’s situation.  Semen analysis consists of an evaluation of the amount of semen produced as well as the number and quality of sperm produced, along with other important factors that may affect a couple’s ability to conceive.  At the Center for Reproductive Health & Gynecology, serving Los Angeles residents in Sherman Oaks, Valencia, Beverly Hills and beyond, we conduct in-depth semen analysis to get the most detailed results possible.

Semen Analysis and Sperm Function Testing


A semen analysis is used to determine whether there is normal sperm production and delivery. If a problem is identified, a more detailed evaluation should be performed.
A standard semen analysis usually includes:

  • Semen level (normal semen volume is 2-5 mL)
  • pH (normal: 7.5-8.5)
  • Concentration (20 million/mL is the acceptable lower threshold of normal fertility, but lower numbers do not rule out a fertile male)
  • Motility, or the ability of the sperm to swim (normal motility is at least 50 percent)
  • Morphology, or appearance of the sperm (normal % morphology by strict criteria is >14 percent)
  • Progression (the ability of the sperm to swim in a purposeful manner)
  • Viability (the percentage of sperm in a sample that are alive)
  • Viscosity (the ability of semen to become thinner by 30 minutes after ejaculation)

There are four categories of semen abnormalities that may be found during the semen analysis: azoospermia (a complete absence of sperm seen in the ejaculate), oligospermia (a low sperm count with concentrations of less than 20 million/mL), asthenospermia (a low motility with less than 40 percent motile sperm/mL), and teratospermia (a low percentage of normal sperm forms).

The Semen Diagnostic Testing Process

It is important for men to avoid ejaculation for two to five days before semen analysis so that their sperm count is at its highest.  On the other hand, men should not avoid ejaculation for more than one to two weeks before semen diagnostic testing as this could affect the activity level of their sperm.  It is also important for men to avoid alcohol in the days leading up to semen diagnosis and to let their fertility doctor know about any and all medications they are taking.
On the day of the semen analysis test, the man will provide a semen sample for analysis.  Results from semen testing are usually available within a week.

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