Sperm Testing – What does a Sperm Analysis Test For?

Infertility affects upwards of 15% of couples amounting to 48.5 million couples globally. Furthermore, males are found to be responsible for 20-30% of infertility cases. Sperm samples are tested to determine the underlying cause of infertility. Despite how common fertility problems are, many couples do not understand exactly what a semen analysis tests for.

Sperm Testing for Fertility

Sperm testing considers many factors when determining the health of sperm. Medical professionals can use the findings of a sperm test to determine the underlying cause and potential treatments for male infertility. Home sperm testing allows men to submit their sample for an in depth analysis, with results in less than 48 hours. The proprietary Legacy Recommendation Engine analyzes 50 data points to create an in-depth personalized six page report, to include sperm count, motility, and morphology.

Sperm countIf you are trying to conceive naturally, a healthy sperm count is critical. A normal sperm count ranges from 15 million sperm to over 200 million sperm per milliliter (ml) of semen. Any sperm count under 15 million per ml, or 39 million per ejaculation, is considered to be low. A low sperm count is also referred to as oligospermia.

Sperm motilityLow sperm motility refers to the inability of the sperm to move swiftly and efficiently toward their destination (i.e., the egg). Healthy sperm motility is designated as sperm with the forward movement of at least 25 micrometers per second. Poor sperm mobility, also called asthenospermia or asthenozoospermia is one of the leading causes of male infertility. Motility can present itself as slow (under 25 micrometers per second), non-progressive (less than 5 micrometers per second), or completely immobile sperm.

Sperm morphologyMorphology relates to the size and shape of sperm and how it looks under a microscope. Healthy sperm have a long tail and an oval-shaped head. Abnormal sperm can have trouble reaching, entering, and fertilizing an egg. In particular, the head shape of sperm is important because it impacts the sperm’s ability to penetrate the outer surface of an egg to fertilize it. Healthy sperm samples contain a minimum of 4% sperm with standard morphology.

VolumeIn terms of a semen, volume is the amount of sperm a man provides in their sample. Typically, a healthy sample is at least half a 1.5 ml. A volume lower than this threshold may suggest there is a blockage in the seminal vesicles, which are vessels sperm travels through.

LiquefactionSemen usually leaves the body in a thickened state. Liquefaction time evaluates how long it takes for the semen sample to become liquid. Liquefying slowly, or failure to liquefy, may indicate a problem that impacts fertility.

pH levelsHaving a pH that is too low (acidic) or too high (alkaline) may impair the health of the sperm. Additionally, abnormal pH levels can impact the ability of sperm to effectively move through the female reproductive tract.

How to Tell if a Man Is Infertile

Male infertility can be due to a variety of factors, to include a low sperm count or abnormal sperm function. For the most part, men who experience infertility fail to notice symptoms other than the inability to conceive a child. However, common signs associated with male infertility include:

  • Complications with sexual functions to include: difficulty with ejaculation, small volumes of ejaculated fluid, challenges keeping an erection (erectile dysfunction), or reduced sexual desire
  • Swelling, a lump, or pain in the testicle area
  • Decreased body or facial hair and other signs of a hormonal irregularity
  • A low sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen)

Legacy Sperm Testing

One of the most important factors in providing couples with the most accurate and effective fertility treatment plans is arriving at an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause or causes of a couple’s infertility. Leveraging the latest innovations and advances in scientific technology, Legacy, helps men test their sperm within the comforts and privacy of their home. With a wide variety of packages to choose from, Legacy makes it easy to test and store your semen sample. Additionally, custom recommendations provide various ways to improve your sperm.

Contact a member of our fertility team to learn more.