Understanding your Tests

Pap smear

Complete blood count

Lipid profile

Liver function test

Renal function

Tumour markers

Sperm Function Analysis

One of the few simple and important tests for gauging male fertility is the actual microscopic examination of the sperm. A sample is brought to the lab in a sterile container within an hour from ejaculatation and examined for the following:

PARAMETERS

volume, viscosity, and colour are initially noted, all important physical attributes.

SPERM COUNT
 
A sperm count is calculated per ml, together with a total count taking in consideration the volume of the sample. This is why it is very important that all the semen sample is brought to the lab for examination

A normal sperm count can be equal to or over 20 million sperms/ml

MOTILITY

Another important parameter is the motility of the sperm.

In a normal sample you may have have:

1. Sperms which are very motile moving in a forward direction.

2. Sperms which are weakly motile moving in a haphazard direction.

3. Non Motile.

The percentage of each type of sperm movement present, as seen and calculated by the Laboratory scientist examing the sperm, gives an indication of the quality of the sperm. There should be at least 20-30% of the "Type 1" sperms for it to be considered as normal.

MORPHOLOGY

The morphology of the sperm (ie the shape and size) is another important indication of quality and a very important indicator of fertility. You may find up to 60-70% of the sperm which may show some form of abnormality but still having fertile sperms.

OTHER FACTORS

The presence of pus cells may indicate an infection. Chlamydia is one organism which may alter the fertility of the sperm.

Sperm antibodies may also interfere in the fertilisation process.

WASH AND SWIM UP / SPERM SURVIVAL

As part of the sperm function tests, the sperm is "washed" ie the liquid in which the sperm is suspended is changed, and the sperm is placed in a highly nutritive medium, giving the sperm nutrients and energy to live longer and travel further. After 18 hours, the sperm is observed under the microscope to see if they are still alive. This is another indicator for fertility.

CONCLUSION

All these parameters are checked in a normal examination of the sperm in the laboratory. From these the doctor decides if the sperm is fertile or not.