Male Fertility testing - Understanding the testing process

Whether you are male or female, having any type of fertility testing can be a bit daunting for some people. Sadly, we know from our recent Australian Fertility Census that men feel stigmatised 79% more than women when it comes to seeking help including testing. To try and help men feel more comfortable we've put together a two part series on Semen analysis. In our last blog "Sperm: Here's the down low" we discussed some common questions about the process of collecting a sperm sample and in this piece discuss some of the more common questions we hear regarding the actual scientific process of analysis sperm and what it all means.

What is normal sperm?

Sperm explained

Genea’s Andrology staff look for three things when they put your sample under the microscope.

The concentration – What indicative number of sperm per ml you have

In gross number terms, you need to have approximately 15 million sperm per millilitre to have a ‘normal’ sperm count, but remember, the number is not the only thing we’re checking out.

Their shape – Referred to as the morphology

Examples of sperm morphology

How they swim – Genea scientists will look over your sample to make sure your sperm motility is strong.

The thing to remember is that under World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, just 4% of your sperm need to meet the above criteria if you and your partner are trying to conceive naturally. And - if you’re undertaking Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) at Genea - only 2% need to pass the test. 

Can I improve my sperm quality?

Theoretically, sperm are produced every second of every day a man lives. However, each sperm takes approximately 72 days to reach maturity. If you get a result which indicates your sperm quality is a little off, there is the possibility that a few simple changes could improve it. These include, reducing your alcohol intake, eliminating any recreational drugs, quitting smoking, getting your BMI into what is referred to as a healthy range, reducing how often you cycle or wear tight pants and eliminating hot baths or saunas.

How long should I abstain before giving a sperm sample?

If you are going to have a semen analysis, we recommend you abstain from ejaculating for a period of three days, unless specified otherwise by your doctor. Between two to seven days of abstinence is acceptable according to WHO, but more than seven days is counterproductive as there is likely to be an accumulation of aging and dead sperm in your ejaculate.

How much does a semen analysis cost?

This is a question we are asked as often as any other. We have a range of tests which we can do on your sperm. For an accurate cost, please visit our Andrology Tests page.

Do I need a referral to do testing?

Yes you do - if you want to claim a Medicare rebate and have the results interpreted. Like a blood test, our scientists need to know what to look for specifically. Ask your GP for a referral to a Genea Andrology lab, or alternatively, contact our Fertility GP who can also organise the tests for you.


If you have a question which is not covered above, please remember, we’re very likely to have heard them before. Some of these may be answered on our male fertility page, or, if not, please feel free to call our Andrology labs and one of our friendly staff will be more than happy to help.

Posted: 29/10/2014 1:22:00 PM by | with 0 comments
Filed under: Male Fertility, Sperm, Sperm Count, Testing
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