There are a few parameters that we will look at.
We look at the pH or how acidic/alkali the semen is. It is important for semen to be slightly alkaline as the vaginal environment is acidic. (to protect the vaginal from bad bacteria).
The slight alkalinity of semen allows the semen to survive for longer in the vaginal canal.
Semen that is too acidic may kill the sperm or prevent fertilization.
Issues with pH may be due to blockage of tubes carrying parts of the semen.
The greater the volume, the higher the chance semen can spread over the female reproductive tract.
Semen is made up of fluid from the testes, seminal vesicles, prostate and bulbourethral glands.
Low semen volume may be caused by, absence or blockage of the seminal vesicle, an obstruction of the vas deferens, retrograde ejaculation, hormonal imbalance or stress.
An abnormally high volume may be caused by inflammation of the reproductive glands.
Within the same volume of semen, the higher the concentration of sperm, the more likely fertilization can occur as fertilization is (partially) still a numbers game.
Having a lower sperm count may indicate a number of problems, including varicocele, infection, chronic health problems like diabetes or inflammatory disease, duct problems, hormonal imbalances, and exposure to toxic substances.
Abnormally low sperm counts can also be caused by certain medications, recent illness accompanied by high fever, and exposure of the scrotum to heat.
Smoking, obesity, and excess alcohol intake has been linked to low sperm count. A complete lack of sperm (azoospermia) may be caused by a duct problem, a hormonal imbalance, or a problem with the testes.
WBC numbers are noted to be higher in patients with fertility issues than among fertile men.
WBC in semen is also associated with decreased sperm numbers and impaired sperm motility.
It is thought that WBC damages sperm function. A marked increase of WBC may indicate an infection of the male reproductive tract.
Sperm viability refers to the percentage of live sperm in the semen sample.
This is important to measure if sperm motility is low, so as to differentiate between live non-motile sperm and dead sperm.
The same things that can cause a low sperm count can cause decreased viability.
The sperm must be able to “swim” to the egg.
There are 3 main kinds of motility.
a. Progressive motility
Forward movement in either a line or in a large circle
This is the type of motility that is desired
b. Non-Progressive motility
Sperm that move but doesn’t make forward progression or swim in very tight circles
Sperm morphology refers to the shape of the sperm cells. This test estimates the rough percentage of normally shaped sperm.
The head, mid-section and tail are examined, as well as the measurements and proportions between each.
Poor sperm morphology may be caused by the same things that can cause low sperm counts.