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Let’s Talk About Sperm, Baby – Sperm test results

Let’s talk about you and Let’s talk about the purpose of your sperm test and why it’s a necessity. Let’s talk about sperm.

Getting right into it. You’ve sent your sperm freezing kit back to us and are currently at the stage in the process where we’re testing and you’re resting. Let’s shed some light on the sperm tests that we perform before we store your sperm, and why we perform them. You are sending your sperm sample to our lab so we can freeze and store your sperm for future use. Before freezing, our qualified lab personnel wants to ensure that your sample is viable and has the chance to be used for reproduction post-thaw. The vast majority of samples we get are in very good shape and totally viable for freezing.

In general, there are a many parameters that affect fertility, some of high importance and some less. The ones that are not so critical are appearance, viscosity (if the semen is very thick or viscous it may be more challenging for the sperm to reach the egg), liquefaction time (usually 15-30 minutes at room temperature), and agglutination (when the sperm are stuck together). The four main factors determining the viability of your sperm sample are the volume, count, motility, and morphology. Let’s have a closer look into these main factors. The reference limits we discuss with each factor were set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their 2010 5th edition laboratory manual for examination and processing of human semen.

Volume. Semen consists of sperm cells and fluid. The volume determines how much semen is in your ejaculate. The volume should be between 1.4-1.7 milliliters. A lesser volume of semen would typically mean less sperm, and therefore less of an opportunity for the sperm to reach the egg.

Count. Count. This tells you how much sperm cells are in your semen. We get the sperm count by multiplying the sperm concentration by the semen volume. The lower reference limit for total sperm number is 39X10^6 sperm per ejaculate. Sperm count is important, because without sperm conception is not possible. Yet remember, with today’s technology, it’s totally plausible to achieve a healthy pregnancy with just one sperm (for example, Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, ICSI).

Motility. In order to reach that egg, your swimmers need to swim. This is vital, and therefore there’s a specific assessment test for motility. Sperm motility is defined by two types of motility – progressive and non-progressive. Progressive motility means that the sperm are actively in motion, either circular or in a straight line. Non-progressive motility is when the sperm are swimming, but not advancing in their movement (example: swimming in circles). Immotility is when there’s no movement of the sperm at all. The reference limit for total motility (Progressive + Non-progressive) is 40%.

Morphology. This is the shape of your sperm. Morphology assesses defects in the head, midsection or tail of the sperm. This can also include immature sperm form. If there’s an abnormal morphology, it might mean the sperm will be unable to move conventionally or penetrate the egg. The reference limit for normal morphology is 4% (This may look like a low number, but even the highest rate of morphologically normal sperm are typically less than 25%).

The process of shipping, freezing and storing sperm will impact count and motility, even for the most healthy and high quality sperm. This does not mean that your sperm is damaged or can’t be used in the future to achieve a healthy pregnancy. Freezing sperm is a tried and tested solution that has been around for many years and has facilitated millions of pregnancies. With all the advancements in technology combined with the right procedure, pregnancy is possible even if there’s only a small amount of motile sperm post-thaw.

And just to be clear, our sperm test results do not predict fertility. This would require a complete semen analysis to be prescribed by your doctor and performed in a fertility clinic. What our sperm tests check for is whether your sperm sample is viable for sperm storage or not. We always advise that if you do have any questions regarding the sperm test results, to please consult with your doctor.

As a reminder, more often than not, the samples we receive are in excellent shape and feasible for sperm storage. Our qualified cryobank lab experts have fifty years of experience in utilizing numerous frozen samples for reproduction. If they’ve decided that your sample is substantial for sperm storage, it is because they believe that your sample, as tested, is adequate for preserving your fertility.

WHO Manual
Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, Link
National Center for Biotechnological Information, Link

Disclaimer: provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The words, views, and other content provided here, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader, or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately.

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