Male Semen Analysis – What Is Measured?

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A male semen analysis is helpful when trying to get pregnant

Experts estimate that male factors are to blame in up to 40% of couples who experience fertility issues. A male semen analysis is a valuable tool for couples as they begin their fertility journey.

As a result, many couples find it extremely helpful for the man to take a sperm test at the earliest sign of difficulty in trying to conceive. Compared to many of the female fertility tests, a male semen analysis is non-invasive, relatively inexpensive, and produces results quickly and accurately.

Using the ExSeed Home Sperm Test to check your sperm quality, you can get the same results as analyzing in the clinic using a microscope.

male semen analysis









Fig 1 – Male Semen Analysis with ExSeed Health

What do we measure in a male semen analysis?

Firstly, semen is the fluid a man ejaculates during orgasm. The sperm cells within the semen are the cells that can fertilize the woman’s egg. For most semen tests, the man masturbates into a container, which is then delivered to a laboratory for testing. Almost all laboratories performing sperm tests will evaluate the following semen and sperm parameters:

Semen Volume: Semen volume is the total quantity of ejaculated fluid. A normal amount is between 2 and 5 milliliters. Hypospermia is when the volume is less than 1.5 ml, which is due to for example hormonal abnormalities or ductal blockages. Hyperspermia is a large volume of more than 5.5 ml.

Sperm Count: Sperm count is determined by looking at the semen sample under a microscope. It is a measurement of how many million sperm cells there are in each milliliter of semen. In the literature it also called “Sperm concentration”.

A normal sperm count is 15 million or more sperm cells per milliliter. Oligospermia is when there is below 15 million sperm cells per milliliter. Azoospermia is if there are no sperm cells at all, see Figure 2.

Sperm Motility: Sperm movement

Sperm motility is the forward swimming motion of sperm. For a sperm to fertilize the egg, it must travel quickly through the female reproductive system. This requires a strong swimming action. The World Health Organization (WHO) grades motility as follows [1];

Progressive motility (PR): spermatozoa moving actively, either linearly or in a large circle, regardless of speed.

Non-progressive motility (NP): all other motility patterns with absent progression, e.g. swimming in small circles, the flagellar force hardly displacing the head, or only observing a flagellar beat.

Immotility (IM): no movement.

It’s normal to have more than 32% of progressively motile sperm cells (PR) or 40% as a combination of progressive motile and non-progressive motile (PR and NP). Asthenozoospermia (see figure 2) refers to a condition where a great portion of sperms in a semen sample are immotile or have reduced motility, compared to the WHO reference values.

Total Motile Sperm Count (TMSC): refers to the total number of moving sperm cells in the entire ejaculate.

It is calculated by multiplying the volume (ml) by the concentration (million sperm/ml) by the motility (% moving). Ideally, the TMSC should be above 39 million sperm cells.

Fig 2 – What a male semen analysis measures

Fertility clinics consider the above 4 semen parameters as enough for an initial sperm quality assessment. However, if they discover abnormalities or if infertility persists, one may go to a clinic for a more comprehensive analysis. Such analysis may include:

Sperm Size and Shape – Morphology

Also known as sperm morphology. Abnormal sperm cells may be unable to move normally or to penetrate an egg. As a result, too many sperm cells of abnormal size and shape can pose a significant fertility issue.

Most laboratories will evaluate the sperm cells based on the “Kruger” criteria provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the Kruger criteria, a normal sperm cell must have an oval shape with a smooth outline. At least 4% of the sperms must have an oval head with a connecting mid-piece and a long straight tail.

Take a look at figure 3 to see how a normal sperm cell should look. The condition Tetrazoospermia is when under 4% of sperm cells in a sample are normal.

male semen analysis

Fig 3: A normal-shaped sperm cell (far left), and abnormal sperm cells (all other cells to the right).


male semen analysis

Color and viscosity

A comprehensive semen analysis often includes an evaluation of the color and viscosity (thickness) of the seminal fluid, as well as an analysis of the time until the semen sample liquifies. The color should be grey-opalescent. If it appears red-brown, it may be an indication of red blood cells in the ejaculate (Haemospermia). It’s normal for the semen to liquefy in no more than 20 minutes. If it doesn’t liquefy, it may indicate the presence of an infection of the seminal vesicles and/or the prostate.

Semen pH

Semen is typically a slightly alkaline substance, with a normal pH of 7.2-8.0. An abnormally high or low semen pH can cause sperm death. It can also impact the ability of the sperm to swim quickly and/or effectively penetrate the egg.

Sperm Vitality

Sperm vitality relates to how many sperm cells are alive and intact. Dyeing the semen with color determines sperm vitality. The dye stains the dead sperm cells, since they are not intact anymore. The percentage of live sperm should be above 58% to consider it as normal. If it’s below that level, the diagnose is Necrozoospermia.

White blood cell infiltration

It’s normal for semen to contain some white blood cells. However, many white blood cells in a sample may indicate the presence of an infection, which can decrease semen quality. It’s normal when semen contains below 1 million white blood cells/ml. On the other hand, Leukospermia is when it’s above that.

Presence of zinc, fructose, and glucosidase in the semen

The accessory glands release a range of different nutrients in the male reproductive system. Some of these include zinc, fructose and glucosidase. In order to consider a semen sample as normal, the markers should be above a certain limit:

Zinc: ≥2.4 µmol/ejaculate
Fructose: ≥ 13 µmol/ejaculate
Glucosidase ≥20 µU/ejaculate.

What do we need to assess semen quality?

A sufficient first line sperm quality test needs to assess the following:

  • Semen volume
  • Sperm concentration
  • Sperm motility
  • Total Motile Sperm Count (TMSC)

You get all of the above information when you use our Home Sperm Test. According to the scientific evidence, TMSC is the best indicator of how big the chances are for reaching pregnancy. ExSeed is the only home sperm test device that can provide this on the market.

Male semen analysis: what, when, where, and how? 

There is no perfect male semen analysis test. Some men with low sperm counts can achieve pregnancies without assistance. Other on the other hand with normal sperm count are unable to get pregnant with their partner.

In general, men with better semen parameters have a better chance of reaching pregnancy faster in the process. Optimizing these parameters as much as possible is therefore beneficial for fertility.

At ExSeed Health we encourage all men to have an assessment of sperm concentration and motility. If you test as early as possible, you allow time to improve sperm quality in case there are any inconsistencies.


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30 thoughts on “Male Semen Analysis – What Is Measured?”

  1. Cedric

    My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for. Do you offer guest writers to write content for yourself? I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write in relation to here. Again, awesome web site!

  2. Ricky

    Really appreciate you sharing this article post.Really thank you! Great.

  3. Waqas Muhammad Sadiq

    My sperm volume is 6ml
    Sperm count 360 million
    Progressive motility is 20 percent
    Sluggish is 45 percent
    Please update me about my report

    1. Emil Andersen

      Dear Waqas,
      We use the number total motile sperm count to estimate semen quality. In your case, we get 12 million motile sperm.
      This is what we classify as a moderate quality, translating in an approximate chance of reaching pregnancy per cycle on 12-18%, which of course is also dependent on your partner.
      Please see this article for more information on the topic:
      Kind regards

  4. Mike

    So I have a 2.0 volume
    Count ( 25
    Motility 80
    Grade 3
    Ph 8.0
    Rounds cells IPF 6

    Please advise your thoughts on results – keep in mind I just had a reversal 3 months ago

    Thanks !!!

    1. Emil Andersen

      Dear Mike,

      From your report, it seems that the reversal has worked. Your semen quality is in what we categorize as in the moderate range, because you have 40 million motile sperm cells per ejaculate. For more information on the topic, please see this article:

      If you are in doubt about the reversal, I recommend that you reach out to the facility that performed the reversal procedure.

      Kind regards

  5. Reddy

    Hi There,

    Semen volume :4.5 ml
    Count : 40 million/ml
    Total sperm count: 180 million
    Sperm motility:60%
    Progressive Motility: 54 million
    Slow and non-progressive: 54 million
    Non Motile: 72 million
    Liquification time:40 mins

    Can you review the report and let me if this is normal.

    1. Emil Andersen

      Dear Reddy,

      From your report, it does look normal.

      We use the number of total progressively motile sperm cells to estimate the semen quality. In your case, you have 54 million motile sperm cells. This is classified as an optimal quality.
      For more information on the topic please see this article:

      Even men with a normal semen quality can experience problems reaching pregnancy with their partner, and a sperm test is a good option to check if something could be limiting your chances.

      Kind regards

  6. g

    After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify
    me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added
    I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. Is there an easy
    method you can remove me from that service? Thank you!

  7. Beatriz Pacheco

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It is the little changes that make the most significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  8. MK

    Very good info. Lucky me I ran across your website by chance. I’ve bookmarked it for later!

  9. Zoro

    Estos resultados están bien?
    El estudio me lo hice hace medio año y pronto me haré otro, debido a asuntos médicos.
    Eyaculado total: 6 ml
    Espermas por mililitro: 16 millones
    Espermas en el eyaculado: 96 millones
    Movilidad progresiva: 40%
    Movilidad no progresiva: 10%
    Espermas normales: 36%
    Anormales: 64%

    1. Gismala

      Volume 2ml
      Count 15million
      Motile 35%
      Sluggish 20%
      Non motile 45%
      Morphology 15%
      Please review my report and if this is normal.

    2. Adeniyi

      Hi there
      Plz help me with my husband semen analysis results
      Volume -5min
      PH 8.0
      Total sperm count 13.5ml/ml
      Progressive motile-0
      Non progressive-35
      Sluggish motile-30
      Non motile-25
      Abnormal form-10

  10. Starlord

    Estos resultados están bien?
    El estudio me lo hice hace medio año y pronto me haré otro, debido a asuntos médicos.
    Eyaculado total: 6 ml
    Espermas por mililitro: 16 millones
    Espermas en el eyaculado: 96 millones
    Movilidad progresiva: 40%
    Movilidad no progresiva: 10%
    Espermas normales: 36%
    Anormales: 64%

  11. LV

    I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I came across this in my hunt for something concerning this.

    1. Blancos

      Volume 5.3
      Number if sperm on smear 2
      Seem concentration mill
      Total speed count mill
      Motility 0%
      Forward progression 0

  12. Ashu Thakur

    If my sperm count is 86 million/ml and all other parameters are normal except semen volume. My semen volume is 1.5 ml. Can I make my wife pregnant.

  13. Frankie

    Hi there,

    Firstly, thank you for your post. Please is it possible to have an opinion on these results:

    Volume (ml): 5
    Density (million/ml): 75
    Progressive motility (%): 60
    Progression: 2-3
    Normal forms (%): 4

    Thank you!

  14. Eric

    Hi – Please find the semen analysis report below. Can you please provide your inputs

    Semen volume :4.2 ml
    Sperm concentration : 12 million/ml
    Total motility count: 31 million
    Sperm motility:60%

  15. junaid

    my sperm report are
    total sperm count 65
    active cell 35%
    non active 10%
    dead cell 35%
    ssluggish cell 20 %
    puss cell 26-28 ph

  16. TreeMan Bong

    I Loved the article!

  17. ways

    Thankyou for your sound opinion on what is normally an overlooked topic. Mind if I share this with my group?

  18. septon

    I love the way you explain stuff. Very helpful!

  19. Sher khan

    How are you doing doctor Emile
    Doc I just got my semen analysis report
    Total sperm count is 75 millions /ml
    Is it good enough?

  20. Muhammad Zubair

    More than 6 months of pregnancy efforts I got the semen test and sharing the results. Please suggest the reason of non conceived and treatment .
    Colour and viscosity creamy white and thick resp.
    Volume 3ml
    pH alkaline
    Sperm count 45 million/ml
    Motile 40%
    Sluggish 10%
    Non motile 50%

  21. Othow

    How are you doctor?
    I’m othow , I want you to help and advice me on my seminal analysis result:-
    Volume(ml) 1.5 MLS
    Density (million/ml) 10
    Motality (%) 10
    Normal form (%) 10

    Progression (%)
    Rapid. 00
    Slow. 7
    Non-progressive. 3
    I wish you could help me in term of explaining my result

    Thank you

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