Semen Analysis

Basic Facts

  • Semen analysis is a primary tool for assessing fertility in men.
  • A normal sperm count is 20 million or more sperm per milliliter of semen. More than 60 percent of the sperm should be actively motile or swimming.
  • Abnormal sperm will be present in any semen sample but abnormalities in more than 60 percent of sperm may be a sign of a fertility problem.

Semen analysis is a tool for assessing male reproductive health. By examining a man’s semen, physicians can determine whether a man is producing enough sperm, whether the sperm are healthy, and whether the semen carrying the sperm contains antisperm antibodies or other factors that could interfere with the sperm’s ability to fertilize a woman’s egg.

Men are asked not to masturbate or have sex for 2 to 3 days before providing a semen sample.


There are no risk factors associated with this test.


Men usually provide a sample for semen analysis through masturbation. The sample is usually taken in the physician’s office or in a laboratory (in a private area) and stored in a sterile container; however, a man can collect a sample at home in a sterile container provided by the physician. If taken at home, the sample must be delivered to the physician or laboratory within 1 hour after collecting the sample. The physician will usually ask for several samples, collected over a period of a few weeks.

If a patient objects to collecting the sample through masturbation, special condoms may be used during intercourse. Once the man has ejaculated into the condom, he should remove it carefully, tie a knot in the opening, and store it in a sterile container provided by the physician. The sample should be delivered to the physician or the laboratory within 1 hour.


A man can resume normal activities following a semen analysis.

Copyright © 2017 NorthPoint Domain, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material cannot be reproduced in digital or printed form without the express consent of NorthPoint Domain, Inc. Unauthorized copying or distribution of NorthPoint Domain’s Content is an infringement of the copyright holder’s rights.