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Hi, I'm Dr. Ingrid Rodi and I am a specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility with RodiMD.com. Today I am here on behalf of About.com to answer the question: what is a semen analysis?When a couple is having difficulty getting pregnant, both partners are evaluated to establish the factors that are contributing to the problem. The man is often asked to provide semen for analysis, a test to evaluate the quantity and the quality of his sperm. Once a man has an appointment at the lab, he produces a specimen by ejaculation. In some cases, if he is having trouble doing that, he can use a special condom, which allows him to collect the specimen during intercourse.The lab then evaluates the specimen for several parameters. The first is the volume of the specimen. This is usually between 2 and 5 cc's. Next the sperm are counted. Ideally, there should be at least 20 million sperm per cc. Another important variable is the motility. Sperm need to swim in a forward direction to be effective. In a normal specimen, approximately half the sperm should be moving forward. The sperm morphology is the shape of the sperm. There is a particular shape, which is more normal than other shapes. The normal range varies, depending on the criteria that are used.If the semen analysis is found to be abnormal, it is often repeated, because we know that there can be considerable variation from one day to the other. If the abnormality persists, the man is referred to a male fertility specialist for a more detailed evaluation. The treatment will depend on the reason for the abnormality. If there is complete absence of sperm, azoospermia, further testing is done to determine if the sperm are absent altogether, or if there is a blockage, which keeps the sperm from being ejaculated. In the case of an obstruction, the sperm can be harvested surgically.In some cases, the underlying problem is hormonal. Medications can sometimes help in these situations. Some men have an abnormal semen analysis because they underwent chemotherapy or radiation. It is important to advise young men with malignancy of this possibility, so they can bank sperm for future use prior to undergoing treatment.Thank you for watching. To learn more, visit us online at About.com.
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