Semen Analysis

THE SPERM BANK OF CALIFORNIA (TSBC) uses guidelines established by the World Health Organization to evaluate fertility. The following factors are measured when TSBC performs an onsite semen analysis on fresh ejaculates and post thaw ejaculates when a Test Thaw is requested. A Test Thaw is requested when you want to assess sperm survival for freezing and storage accounts. 

Semen Analysis $175

  • At this appointment you will:
    • provide an ejaculate for evaluation only
    • the ejaculate is not stored and cannot be used for insemination.
    • our lab will perform a complete semen analysis on the sample.
    • please call to schedule

Analysis Will Include

  • Volume: An average ejaculate is at least 2 cc (cubic centimeters) in volume. All results are read *per cc* not *per ejaculate*
  • Viscosity is the rate at which semen liquefies. Semen is initially thick and viscous; the thicker the semen, the more difficult it is for sperm to travel. The desired viscosity is +1 on a scale of +1 to +4, with liquefaction complete within 10 - 30 minutes.
  • 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 an ejaculate 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 response system that 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. Under the microscope, it is normal to find 5 - 10 white blood cells per high power field. More than 10 could indicate a bacterial or viral infection of the reproductive tract.

A TSBC Semen Analysis Does not include:

  • Morphology describes the shape and size of sperm. At least 30% of sperm should be oval shaped, and usually up to 70% of sperm are abnormally shaped in some way. As yet, there's no precise understanding of how each individual abnormality affects fertility, but mild abnormalities such as midpiece and taper defects are quite common and don't necessarily indicate a fertility problem. Other abnormalities that will inhibit sperm's capacity for fertilization include microcephalic head, amorphous head, duplicate head, and abnormal tail. Immature sperm cells are incapable of fertilization.

Semen Analysis with Test Thaw $275

Directed Donors and Known Donors 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 an ejaculate for evaluation only
    • the ejaculate is not stored and cannot be used for insemination.
    • our lab will perform a complete semen analysis on the sample, freeze it, and thaw it a week 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.

Frequently Asked Questions about Semen Analysis

What is semen?
Semen is composed of sperm, sugars, salts and secretions produced by the prostate gland and seminal vesicles. Germinal sperm cells are continuously produced in the testes and mature in the epididymis, a series of coiled tubules on the outer part of the testes. This maturation process takes about two to three months. Prior to ejaculation, mature sperm travel up the vas deferens (the tube from the epididymis) to the prostate gland, where they mix with fluid from the prostate gland and seminal vesicles before being propelled down the urethra during ejaculation.

How can I increase my sperm count?
Sperm count and motility can be affected by many variables, including length of abstinence, nutrition, stress, amount of sleep, drug and alcohol use, and illness. The most important step you can take to maximize your sperm count is to abstain from ejaculating for forty-eight hours before each storage visit. Forty-eight hours is the minimum amount of time it takes to replenish sperm. If you abstain from ejaculating for fewer than two days before your visit, your sperm count will be reduced. Between two to five days of abstinence is optimal, but abstinence of more than five days is counterproductive as there is likely to be an accumulation of aging and dead sperm in the ejaculate.

Should I get more than one semen analysis?
If one semen analysis produces results below the normal range, we’d 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 abnormal, we’d recommend that you make an appointment with an urologist.

Can I provide samples at home?
As soon as you ejaculate, the sperm in your ejaculate begins to deteriorate. We recommend that everyone provide their samples on our premises so our lab can perform an accurate analysis, and we require all our sperm donors to do so. However, if you are a sperm storage client or are requesting a semen analysis, we will accept a semen sample that has been provided off-site, but we will ask you to sign a waiver stating that you assume all the risks associated with the reduced sample quality. Use a clean, dry glass jar or plastic container, and collect the entire ejaculate in the container. Make sure that there’s no water or soap in the container, and don’t use lubricant of any kind while masturbating, as water, soap, and lubricant can all kill sperm. Seal the container, and don’t expose it to bright light or extremes of temperature. Transport the sample close to your body (so it will remain at body temperature), and deliver it to our lab within thirty minutes of ejaculation. Please make sure you have an appointment scheduled for the semen analysis even if you’re providing your sample off-site.

Service Fees listed BELOW will be effective on January 16, 2017. Please call us for details.