Male factor infertility accounts for approximately 40% of those couples failing to conceive. Therefore, despite its well known limitations a detailed semen analysis is a pre-requisite for effective diagnosis as well as providing a good indication for the most appropriate treatment options for a couple struggling to achieve a pregnancy.
Normally men produce approximately 1,000 spermatozoa every second, but the sperm count can vary markedly in both fertile and sub-fertile individuals. To make an accurate assessment of sperm quality scientists take a semen sample and analyse it under a microscope. From these samples they can then estimate the following:
- The concentration of spermatozoa and the total sperm count
- The percentage of motile spermatozoa and the total motile sperm count
- The percentage of spermatozoa able to move quickly in a forward direction
- How normal the shape of each sperm head and each sperm tail is
- Whether the spermatozoa stick together and to what extent
- The concentration of round cells (immune system cells, immature sperm cells without tails, and other cells of the genital tract that are found in the seminal fluid)
Providing you have had at least two semen analyses within the past year, the results allow your doctor to recommend the best treatment option, but this will vary according to the quality of the semen sample collected on the actual day of treatment. Each case is taken individually and decisions are made according to the best perceived treatment option for a couple, and it is important to remember that even with less than 5% normal spermatozoa in a semen sample, it is still possible to achieve a pregnancy.