Test of semen quality

A test of semen quality is a standard investigation performed by fertility clinics and doctors. The test includes:

• Assessment of seminal volume
• Determination of sperm concentration
• Assessment of sperm motility
• Assessment of sperm morphology

The number of sperm in a semen sample

The seminal volume is normally about 3 ml.
The concentration of sperm needs to be 200 million per ml.
The total number of sperm in a normal semen sample it therefore approximately 60 million or higher.

Sperm motility
The motility of the sperm is assessed in a microscope. It is required that at least 50% of the sperm is live with good progressive motility.

Sperm morphology
The standard semen assessment also includes an evaluation of the appearance of the sperm. This is also assessed in a microscopi. At least 100 sperm is assessed with regard to the structure of the head, the midpiece and the tail . In a good semen sample, at least 15% of the sperm are normal.

What does a test of semen quality tell us?

The test shows if the production of sperm is normal. If a man has a reduced production of sperm, the concentration of sperm in the sample is often low. It may also be that the sperm are not very good at swimming or that a high percentage appear abnormal.

If the production of sperm is very low or if the quality is very bad, the fertility of the man is often reduced. However, good sperm production and quality is no guarantee the fertility of the man is normal.

What does the test NOT say?
A test of semen quality does not investigate the ability of the sperm to fertilize an oocyte. Furthermore, the integrity of the DNA is not examined. It is therefore possible that the man has reduced or strongly reduced fertility, although the semen quality is normal.