A semen analysis evaluates certain characteristics of a male’s semen and the sperm contained in the semen. It may be done while investigating a couple’s infertility or after a vasectomy to verify that the procedure was successful. It is also used in stud farming, dog feeding and farm animal breeding.
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A small, uncalibrated drop from a well mixed undiluted specimen is placed in the center of the Chamber by means of a simple rod and immediately covered. A microscopic objective of x20 is required.
Semen is the turbid, whitish substance that is released from the penis during ejaculation. Sperm are the cells in semen with a head and a tail that enables them to travel to the egg. A sperm contains one copy of each chromosome and fuses with the female’s egg, resulting in fertilization.
A typical semen analysis measures:
- The volume of semen,
- The semen consistency (thickness),
- Sperm concentration,
- Total number of sperm,
- Sperm motility (percent able to move as well as how vigorously and straight the sperm move),
- The number of normal and not normal (defective) sperm,
- Coagulation and liquefaction,
- Fructose (a sugar in semen),
- Ph (acidity),
- The number of immature sperm, and
- The number of white blood cells (cells that indicate infection).
Tests that may be done during a semen analysis include:
- Volume. This is a measure of how much semen is present in one ejaculation.
- Liquefaction time.Semen is a thick gel at the time of ejaculation and normally becomes liquid within 20 minutes after ejaculation. Liquefaction time is a measure of the time it takes for the semen to liquefy.
- Sperm count. This is a count of the number of sperm present per milliliter (mL) of semen in one ejaculation.
- Sperm morphology.This is a measure of the percentage of sperm that have a normal shape.
- Sperm motility. This is a measure of the percentage of sperm that can move forward normally. The number of sperm that show normal forward movement in a certain amount of semen can also be measured (motile density).
- pH.This is a measure of the acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of the semen.
- White blood cell count.White blood cells are not normally present in semen.
- Fructose level.This is a measure of the amount of a sugar called fructose in the semen. The fructose provides energy for the sperm.
Non-motile sperm are counted within an area of nine or sixteen squares in the center of the grid. Moving sperms are then counted, and graded if desired. The procedure is repeated in several areas. Percentage of motility and its quality are then calculated.
A part of the original specimen is transferred to another test tube for immobilization by placing the tube in hot water (50o-60o): a cup with 2/3 boiling water and 1/3 tap water is suggested. A drop of the immobilized specimen is then placed in the Chamber and counting initiated: sperm heads within a ten square area are counted in the same manner as blood cells are counted in a hemocytomer, their number represents their concentration in millions per ml. In cases of oligospermic semen, sperms in the entire grid area are to be counted, representing their concentration in hundreds of thousands.