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Sep 25, 2014 — by Larry Lipshultz

A father plays with his young childDr. Larry Lipshultz has helped many men in and around Houston with a diverse array of health care needs. One of his focuses is on diagnosing the causes of male infertility and creative custom treatment plans that allow men to start the families they have always wanted. We'd like to take a moment right now to go over sperm function testing, which is one the basics to consider when it comes to assessing the exact nature of male infertility.

What is sperm function testing?

Sperm function testing refers to a careful assessment of the nature of a man's sperm based on a sample of his semen. Sperm function focuses on various qualities of the sperm and semen and how these impact male fertility as a whole.

Below are some factors taken into account when assessing sperm function. You'll note some crossover with these concerns as there are in semen analysis, which we covered in a previous blog post.

Measuring Semen Volume

In general, men produce around 2 milliliters of semen when they ejaculate. A lower volume of semen may point to problems with sperm and semen production or issues with ejaculation itself, such as retrograde ejaculation or obstructions of some kind.

Assessing Sperm Density

This assessment is related to the number of sperm found in the man's semen. In general, normal density is greater than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Lower densities make it more difficult to conceive.

Analyzing Sperm Motility

Sperm motility is a term applied to a sperm's ability to swim and negotiate a woman's reproductive system en route to a viable egg. Poor sperm motility means a lower likelihood of successful conception and pregnancy.

Noting Sperm Morphology

The term "sperm morphology" is related to the shape of the sperm and its various structures, such as its head and tail. Issues with the sperm's overall shape and formation may suggest flaws in a man's sperm production and a lower likelihood for conceiving.

Accounting for the Presence of White Blood Cells

Semen analysis may also take into account the relative number of white blood cells present when a man ejaculates. If there is a high number of white blood cells, this could indicate an infection or inflammation of some kind that affects overall function and viability of the sperm.

Determining an Ideal Treatment for Male Infertility

Once all of the above has been carefully assessed and measured, Dr. Lipshultz can parse the findings and determine the ideal treatment option for you and your needs. If blockages are found that lead to reduced semen volume, surgical or non-surgical intervention may be recommended, for instance. In cases of infection, antibiotics or other therapies may be administered in order to restore full sperm function.

In cases where sperm production or sperm count is low, special procedures may be recommended as part of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. This includes intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), testicular sperm extraction (TESE), microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA), percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA), and testicular sperm aspiration (TESA). All options for care can be covered in greater detail during your consultation at the practice.

Learn More About Male Fertility Treatments

If you have suffered from issues related to male infertility and would like to learn more about your many different options for treatment, be sure to contact our men's health center today. By meeting with Dr. Lipshultz, you will be able to learn more about all of your options for addressing infertility and starting a family.