Understanding the Semen Analysis Test

Written by: Dr. Brian Steixner

Embarking on the family planning journey often involves various medical assessments, including the semen analysis test. This diagnostic tool plays a crucial role in assessing male fertility and can provide valuable insights for couples striving to conceive. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of the semen analysis test, exploring its significance, the procedure involved, and what the results may indicate.

Understanding Semen Analysis

The semen analysis, also known as a sperm count test, is a comprehensive examination of a man's sperm quality and quantity. Conducted in a clinical setting, this test aims to evaluate key parameters that influence male fertility. These parameters include sperm count, motility (movement), morphology (shape), volume, and overall sperm health.

Why is Semen Analysis Important?

Male fertility is a complex interplay of various factors, and the semen analysis provides a snapshot of a man's reproductive health. Understanding the quality and quantity of sperm can help identify potential issues that may hinder conception. For couples experiencing difficulty conceiving, a semen analysis is often one of the initial steps in the diagnostic process.

The Semen Analysis Procedure

Abstinence Period: 

Before undergoing the test, it is recommended for the individual to abstain from ejaculation for 2-5 days. This period of abstinence ensures a more accurate representation of sperm quantity and quality.

Sample Collection: 

The semen sample is collected in a sterile container through masturbation. Some clinics may provide a private room for this purpose to ease any discomfort.


The collected sample is then analyzed in a laboratory. Technicians examine various aspects of the semen, including sperm concentration, motility, morphology, and other relevant factors.

Understanding the Semen Analysis Test

Interpreting Semen Analysis Results

Sperm Count

A normal sperm count typically ranges from 15 million to 200 million sperm per milliliter. Low sperm count may indicate fertility issues.


The percentage of sperm that exhibit forward movement is crucial. Ideally, at least 40% of sperm should have progressive motility for optimal fertility.


Normal-shaped sperm are essential for successful fertilization. A high percentage of abnormally shaped sperm may suggest potential fertility issues.


A normal semen volume typically ranges from 1.5 to 6 milliliters. Low volume may affect sperm transport.

Other Factors

Additional factors, such as pH levels and the presence of white blood cells, are also considered during analysis.

What Results Might Indicate

Normal Results

Normal results indicate the male reproductive system functions well, increasing the likelihood of successful conception.

Abnormal Results

Abnormal results may suggest underlying fertility issues, requiring further investigation. Causes may include hormonal imbalances, infections, or lifestyle factors.

The semen analysis test is a vital tool in assessing male fertility and can offer valuable insights for couples trying to conceive. Understanding the results and their implications can guide individuals and healthcare professionals in developing appropriate strategies to overcome potential obstacles. If you and your partner are considering starting a family, consulting with a fertility specialist and undergoing a semen analysis may be a proactive step toward achieving your goal.

Dr. Brian Steixner

Dr. Brian Steixner

Dr. Brian Steixner is a board-certified urologist and an expert in men’s sexual medicine. He completed his General Surgery and Urology training at The University of Pennsylvania and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the busiest and most comprehensive programs in the nation. During his career, Brian has treated thousands of men with sexual health issues including male factor infertility.