Semen analysis is a test done to check a man’s sample for abnormalities resulting in infertility. The test can come out as abnormal the sperm count, semen volume, sperm motility and sperm morphology are not up to the set normal values. Depending on the cause of the abnormal semen analysis, lifestyle changes and treatment can help in improving the chances of fertility.
What is an abnormal semen analysis?
When a sample of semen is tested under the microscope, the size, shape, number and movement of the sperm will be analysed. If the samples fail to meet the normal parameters in one or more aspects, the result is deemed an abnormal semen analysis. This does notmean that the man is infertile. It may only mean that it may take longer to achieve pregnancy or may find it challenging to have a pregnancy through natural ways.
- Conducting a laboratory semen analysis
To collect a sample, the man is asked to masturbate and ejaculate into a sterile container. A special condom may also be asked to use to collect semen during
intercourse. This sample sent to the laboratory to test. The sample may have to be collected in the facility as this is a time-sensitive test. If the test is normal, you may not need another test. If the test comes out abnormal, your doctor may ask for another test as there can be variation in samples taken at different times.
- Testing at home
Home tests are becoming more popular but these can be done only to determine the sperm count. If a man’s fertility has to be tested, it is best to get it comprehensively tested at the fertility centre.
Characteristics of semen, sperm count, sperm motility & sperm morphology
- Normal Semen
Normal semen is whitish-grey or translucent. Red, green, yellow and brown tinges in the semen can be a sign of an anomaly. The semen should not be too thick, too watery or should not have a foul odour. The volume of the semen should be more than or equal to 1.5 millilitres. Any less than that can indicate retrograde ejaculation other dysfunctions.
- Sperm count
The normal sperm count should be more than or equal to 15 million per millilitre of semen.
- Morphology of sperm
At least 4% of the sperm must have the normal shape and characteristics.
- Sperm motility
At least 40% of the sperms must be active with proper movement.
Causes for abnormal semen analysis
Many factors can cause an abnormal semen analysis.
- Infections in the past or present.
- Trauma to the testicles
- Testosterone usage
- Exposure to toxins
- Having had surgery like abdominal, pelvic surgery or vasectomy
- Undescended testicles
- Illnesses like sickle cell diseases
- Consuming medications
Treatments like radiation for cancer
Treatment options after an abnormal semen analysis Lifestyle changes can help improve the semen analysis a lot.
- Stop smoking
- Avoid drugs and alcoholic beverages
- Reduce the intake of caffeine
- Avoid stress
- Keep your body cool
- Consume healthy diet
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid contact with toxins, radiations, organic fumes, solvents, pesticides and other harmful environmental changes.
Your fertility expert can also help you by providing the appropriate medications. Surgery may also be done to treat conditions like varicoceles and vasectomy reversal. Sperms may also need to be retrieved to perform ICSI IVF to have a pregnancy.