What Your Semen Analysis isn’t Telling About Your Male Infertility


I remember the first time I saw him, tall, dark, and handsome. Bonus – he knew how to make a great cup of coffee because he worked at the coffee cart in the hall right outside of the library.

Brad, I found out his name from a classmate. I’m pretty sure she knew why I was asking, but she just smiled and gave it to me. She also told me that Brad was on the soccer team – I played soccer too. Of course, I started looking for Brad during soccer practice too.

The library was not my favorite place on campus, but I soon found more reasons why I needed to go. Whether it was to research for a paper or a quiet place to study, I was definitely in the library more than I needed to be that semester.

Yes, from all outward appearances, Brad would be quite the catch! Handsome, athletic, a coffee artist, what more could a girl ask for? But one day, Brad broke my heart. I spotted him outside the cafeteria. No, he wasn’t with another woman. I mean, he had every right to be because I didn’t exactly have claim to him.

No, Brad was standing with several of his friends, and they were teasing another guy. A much smaller guy who looked humiliated and embarrassed.

I was angry. I felt embarrassed and sad for that student and to this day wish I would have gone and told those guys off, but I wasn’t nearly as confident back then.

After I saw Brad that day, I wanted nothing to do with him at all. I didn’t find him attractive or appealing in any way. I didn’t want any of his coffee anymore either.

So, what does Brad have to do with a sperm analysis (besides the fact that he’s a man and had them)?

Well, a semen analysis is often a first step when a couple is struggling to get pregnant. Seeing as the male is a factor in 40-50% of infertility cases, it’s a good thing to look at.

A semen analysis is done by collecting semen from the man, which can be done in several ways depending on the man’s preference. The semen analysis looks at several factors:

Sperm count. The first thing to be checked is how many sperm are present in 1 milliliter of seminal fluid. Although the “normal” range looked for in a lab is 15-39 million, studies show that the number of sperm has been steadily declining over the years.

Sperm Motility. This part basically looks at how strong of swimmers the little guys (or girls) are. If you don’t have strong swimmers, they will likely have a hard time reaching the prized egg for fertilization.

Sperm morphology. The other thing that they look at is how the sperm are shaped. Normal sperm have an oval-shaped head and a long tail (remember that swimming action we just talked about?) To be considered “healthy” sperm, at least 4% of the swimmers must be in this shape.

A semen analysis can also look at the overall volume of seminal fluid, there should be at least 1/2 teaspoon. They may check the PH level, liquefaction time, and fructose levels as well. All these things need to be functioning properly for healthy sperm that will be able to fertilize an egg.

Even after all this though, they don’t take a peek inside the sperm to see the DNA and how healthy replication of cells may be in an embryo. So, like Brad, the sperm by all appearances could look good on the outside, but not healthy on the inside.

The sperm can look good, swim well, be in great form, but still not pass in the end.

Sperm heath, male factor infertility, fertility, natural fertility, infertility

But don’t worry! There’s a lot you can do to improve sperm health through diet and lifestyle. Soon your little swimmers will be swimming as well as Michael Phelps – and hopefully win that gold medal of an egg.

I'm a nurse turned nutritionist who's passionate about helping you and your family live a healthy life, naturally.

All Information on this site is meant to be for educational purposes only and not to be taken as medical advice.


Hey there, I'm Becca