What Can a Semen Analysis Determine?

President and practicing physician at New York Reproductive Wellness Medicine, P.C., Dr. Gregory Zapantis provides compassionate, individualized care to couples experiencing infertility. One of the first tests that Dr. Gregory Zapantis performs when couples seek his care is a semen analysis on the man.

In more than a third of couples with fertility issues, a problem with the sperm is the culprit. This noninvasive test is performed by having the man ejaculate into a sample cup. A laboratory then tests the semen and sperm for both quality and quantity, both of which can affect a man’s ability to impregnate his partner.

A low volume of semen may indicate an issue with the seminal vesicles, and a low sperm count can reduce the chances of pregnancy. Sperm shape and movement are also studied, as abnormally shaped sperm cannot penetrate an egg, and those that cannot swim properly cannot make their way to the egg at all. Additionally, the pH of the semen is tested, because extremely high or low pH levels can kill sperm or affect their functionality. The laboratory technician also looks for white blood cells, which may indicate an STD or other infection that is preventing conception.

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