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Sep 4, 2014 — by Larry Lipshultz

A father and son togetherDr. Larry Lipshultz has helped countless men throughout the greater Houston area address issues with fertility and infertility. Male infertility accounts for roughly one-third of all cases of infertility, and many times these matters are related to the man's semen. In order to determine the ideal treatment for a patient, semen analysis is necessary. Let's take a moment right now to go into the basics of semen analysis and what it entails.

What is semen analysis?

Semen analysis refers to the careful examination of a man's semen in order to determine if he is fertile. The semen itself is collected in a sterile fashion following masturbation at a men's health facility so that specialists can note various factors about a man's semen that may affect his ability to father a child.

Below are some of the issues with men's sperm which are evaluated along with a brief explanation of why each of these issues is important.

Evaluation of Sperm Count

Sperm count is obviously crucial for successful fertilization of an egg. There are cases in which a man has no viable sperm in his semen. This condition is known as azoospermia. It's estimated that azoospermia affects roughly 1% of the male population, though it accounts for roughly 20% of all cases of male infertility.

Assessing Sperm Motility

Sperm motility refers to the ability for a man's sperm to swim properly. If the sperm display a poor ability to move or swim, this makes it harder for the sperm to reach the egg following ejaculation. In cases in which there are no moving sperm in a man's semen, this is known as necrozoospermia. In this rare condition, all of a man's sperm are effectively dead.

Noting Abnormal Sperm Morphology

Morphology of the sperm refers to the shape and the appearance of the sperm themselves. Abnormalities of the sperm may affect motility or just general quality. Fertility experts will note the head and tail shape of the sperm in order to assess the quality of the sperm. Abnormalities may include small heads, overly large heads, multiple tails, short tails, or broken tails.

Examining the Chemical Composition of the Semen

Semen and sperm are different. Semen is the whole of a man's ejaculate, which contains sperm. The chemical composition, viscosity, and pH of the semen can actually affect the health and viability of a man's sperm. In other words, sometimes a man's semen may be inhospitable to his own sperm, making fertilization very difficult.

Defining the Right Treatment for You

After semen analysis is completed, you can learn more about your various treatment options. In some cases, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used during in vitro fertilization (IVF) to place a single viable sperm directly into the egg. In cases in which a man's semen may be inhospitable to his own sperm, there are other methods of getting the sperm for ICSI. These sperm retrieval techniques include testicular sperm extraction (TESE), microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA), percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA), and testicular sperm aspiration (TESA).

If these options are not viable or do not interest a patient, we can talk about other options for starting a family of your own. We will work with you to find an ideal solution.

Learn More About Male Fertility Issues

To learn more about semen analysis as well as other issues that affect male infertility, it's important that you contact our men's health and urology center today. Dr. Larry Lipshultz will help you receive the treatment that you need to start a family with your partner.