The Sperm Bank Of California (TSBC) uses guidelines established by the World Health Organization to evaluate fertility. A semen analysis with test thaw is recommended when you want to assess sperm survival for freezing and storage accounts.

At this appointment:

  • You will provide a sperm sample for evaluation only.
  • Our lab will perform a complete semen analysis on the sample.
  • The sample is destroyed after analysis and cannot be stored for insemination.

What is included in a semen analysis?

  • Volume: An average sperm sample is at least 2 cc (cubic centimeters) in volume. All results are read *per cc* not *per sample*.
  • Viscosity describes the thickness of the sample after liquefaction. Semen is initially thick and viscous; the thicker the semen, the more difficult it is for sperm to travel. Viscosity is measured by aspirating the sample into a pipette and allowing the semen to drop by gravity and observing the length of any thread.  A normal ejaculate will fall in discrete drops.
  • pH: Semen is an alkaline body fluid, with a normal pH in the range of 7.2 to 8.0.
  • Sperm Count measures the actual number of both motile and non-motile sperm in every 1 cc of semen. Motile sperm are live, swimming sperm. A normal range is at least 10 million motile sperm per cc and at least 20 million total sperm per cc.
  • Motility expresses the percent of motile sperm compared to total sperm in the entire ejaculate. Normal motility is 50% or higher. In other words, at least 50% of the sperm in a sample should be live, swimming sperm.
  • Progression is the rate and speed of forward movement. The desired progression is +2 or higher on a scale of +1 to +4.
  • White Blood Cells are an integral part of the body’s immune system and can normally appear in blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and other bodily fluids.  They appear in excess during times of stress or infection, but don’t always indicate disease.
  • Morphology is not included in our standard semen analysis but can be requested for an additional fee. Morphology is an evaluation of the size and shape of sperm is one factor that can be examined as part of a semen analysis. Sperm morphology results from TSBC are reported as the percentage of sperm that appear normal, as well as the percentage of those that appear to have abnormalities in the shape or size of the tail, head, or mid-piece. The World Health Organization (6th ed.) cites that the range of percentage normal forms for both fertile and infertile individuals is likely to be well under 30%.

Semen analysis with test thaw

Directed Donors and Known Donors who are storing for a designated recipient are encouraged to schedule a semen analysis and test thaw appointment with TSBC prior to setting up a storage account.

At this appointment:

  • You will provide a sperm sample for evaluation only.
  • Our lab will perform a complete semen analysis on the sample.
  • Our lab will freeze the sample and thaw it 48 hours later to assess cryo survival, we call this a “test thaw”.
  • The semen analysis indicates the donor’s general fertility, and the test thaw indicates how well the donor’s sperm survives freezing.
  • The sample is destroyed after analysis and cannot be stored for insemination.

Frequently asked questions about semen analysis (FAQs)

What is semen?

Semen is fluid that is emitted from the male reproductive tract and contains sperm cells. Semen also contains liquids that combine to form seminal plasma, which helps keep the sperm cells viable.

How can I increase my sperm count?

The most important step you can take to maximize your sperm count is to abstain from ejaculating for at least forty-eight hours before each appointment. Forty-eight hours is the minimum amount of time it takes to replenish sperm. Between two to five days of abstinence is optimal. Abstinence of more than five days is likely to cause an accumulation of aging and dead sperm in the ejaculate. Volume and sperm count can vary with each ejaculate.

It takes the body about ~72 days to grow sperm cells. Sperm count can be affected by length of abstinence, nutrition, stress, amount of sleep, drug and alcohol use, and illness. For best counts, it is optimal to avoid anything that will cause the testicles to overheat—like hot tubs, very hot showers, long or daily bike rides—in the 10 weeks before providing a sample. Activities such as tucking or wearing extremely tight undergarments can cause overheating in the testicles which can lower sperm count and quality.

Should I get more than one semen analysis?

If one semen analysis produces results well below the normal range, we suggest having one or two more semen analyses to get an accurate evaluation of your fertility potential (schedule these repeat analyses two to three months apart). If results are consistently low, or if there is no sperm in the sample, we recommend that you make an appointment with an urologist.

Can I provide samples at home?

As soon as you collect a sample, the sperm in your sample begins to deteriorate. We ask that clients provide semen samples on our premises so our lab can begin the evaluation and cryopreservation process as soon as possible. If you are unable to visit our offices for medical reasons such as being hospitalized, on rare occasions we will accept a semen sample that has been provided offsite, but we will ask you to sign a waiver stating that you assume all the risks associated with the reduced sample quality. Please call us for more information.