After your semen sample is collected, your test results should be ready within 24 hours to one week, depending on the laboratory you go to. When a doctor reviews sperm analysis test results, there are many factors to consider. An analysis after vasectomy looks for the presence of sperm, but the analysis to look for fertility issues is much more in depth. Your doctor will take each of the following results into account:
. Sperm shape
A normal result for sperm shape is that more than 50 percent of sperm are normally shaped. If a man has greater than 50 percent of sperm that are abnormally shaped, this reduces his fertility. A laboratory may identify abnormalities in the sperm’s head, midsection, or tail. It’s also possible the sperm could be immature and therefore not able to effectively fertilize an egg.
For a normal result, more than 50 percent of sperm must move normally an hour after ejaculation. Sperm movement, or motility, is important to fertility because sperm must travel to fertilize an egg. An automated system analyzes the sperm for movement and rates them on a scale of 0 to 4. A score of 0 means the sperm are not moving, and a score of 3 or 4 represents good movement.
A pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.8 to achieve a normal result. A pH level higher than 8.0 could indicate the donor has an infection. A result less than 7.0 could indicate the specimen is contaminated or that the man’s ejaculatory ducts are blocked.
The volume of semen for a normal result should be greater than 2 milliliters. A low semen volume could indicate a low amount of sperm to fertilize an egg. An excess fluid volume could also mean the amount of sperm present is diluted.
It should take 15 to 30 minutes before semen liquefies. While semen is initially thick, its ability to liquefy, or turn to a watery consistency, helps sperm to move. If semen does not liquefy in 15 to 30 minutes, fertility could be affected.
. Sperm count
The sperm count in a normal semen analysis should be between 20 million to over 200 million. This result is also known as sperm density. If this number is low, conceiving can be more difficult.
The appearance should be whitish to gray and opalescent. Semen that has a red-brown tint could indicate the presence of blood, while a yellow tint could indicate jaundice or be a medication side effect.
Abnormal sperm will have trouble reaching and penetrating eggs, making conception difficult. Abnormal results could indicate the following:
. Hormonal imbalance
. Disease, such as diabetes
. Gene defects
. Exposure to radiation
If your results come back at abnormal levels, your doctor will probably suggest that you take additional tests. These tests include:
. Genetic tests
. Hormone testing
. Urinalysis after ejaculation
. Taking a tissue sample from your testicles
. Anti-sperm immune cells testing