According to the World Health Organization’s criteria, a sperm analysis (spermiogram) measures the following 4 main parameters:
- The sample volume that shows how much semen is produced in one ejaculation (should be at least 2ml).
- The sperm count that gives the number of spermatozoa per milliliter (ml) of semen (should be at a minimum of 20million/ml).
- The sperm motility, which counts the percentage of sperm cells that can move, also called motility (should exceed 32%).
- The sperm morphology, which demonstrates the percentage of sperm that have a normal morphology (should be more than 4%).
A sample that meets the aforementioned four conditions is considered ‘normal’. If the value in one or more of the parameters is lower than the World Health Organization’s criteria, it is considered that this man faces infertility, in particular:
- If the sperm count is lower than 20 million/ml, it is considered ‘oligospermia’.
- If the sperm motility is less than 32%, it is considered ‘asthenozoospermia’ (or asthenospermia).
- If the percentage of sperm with normal morphology is lower than 4%, it is considered ‘teratozoospermia’ (or teratospermia).
Moreover, a combination of these conditions may exist at the same time, e.g. oligoasthenospermia (low sperm count and motility), oligoasthenoteratospermia (all the above parameters being low), etc.
Based on the results, the reproduction gynaecologist and embryologist might recommend freezing a sperm sample for the purpose of future fertilization and pregnancy.
Male infertility is considered responsible for the half of infertility cases in couples. Contrary to the established perception, men have the same percentage of facing infertility with women. Luckily, IVF treatments solve the majority of male infertility issues, even the most complicated. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), often in combination with PICSI or IMSI techniques, have helped million of couples to have their own babies.
The medical condition where the semen sample has no sperms at all is called ‘Azoospermia’. In some cases, this condition is caused by a physical obstruction of the testicular to the epididymis and the vas deferens due to anatomical abnormalities, an inflammation, etc. and is called obstructive azoospermia. In patients suffering from this condition sperm is being produced, but due to the obstacles it cannot reach the final semen sample. In these cases testicular biopsy might help to retrieve immature sperm, which eventually can be used for IVF cycle with ICSI. However, if there is no spermatogenesis (sperm is not produced at all) the testicular biopsy will not detect sperm.