Semen analysis is usually the first step in diagnosing male fertility. The man produces a semen sample in a specially designed room at Orchid and the sample is analysed in the andrology lab by an embryologist to assess the quantity and quality of the sperm, to determine whether there is a problem that could lead to infertility.

How does semen analysis work?

When a man decides to undergo semen analysis, he will be asked to produce a fresh sample of ejaculate in a sample pot. This pot will then be analysed in the andrology laboratory, where the embryologists will look at the following factors:

  • The number of sperm in the sample (also known as the sperm concentration)
  • The motility of the sperm (how well they can swim)
  • The morphology of the sperm (size and shape)

A problem with any one of these factors could be a cause of male infertility, although popular belief is that a low sperm count is the culprit.

A normal sperm count is anywhere above 15 million sperm per millilitre for a volume of above 1,5 ml, as per the latest updated WHO recommendations.


Motility and progressionof the sperm – how well and how fast they can swim – can be a major factor in male infertility, as they have a long way to travel in order to reach the egg, so only the strongest swimmers will make it. Abnormally sized or shaped sperm can also affect fertility – the human semen shows a very high percentage of abnormalities, however these abnormalities should be less than 96% when using strict morphology criteria as per the latest WHO recommendations.

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What do the results mean?

Semen analyisis results usually come back as either ‘normal’, in which case it is unlikely that the man has no fertility problem; ‘abnormal’, if the sperm count is 15 million sperm per millilitre or less, or if there is a problem with the size, shape or motility of the sperm; or sometimes ‘unclear’, if the results fall somewhere on the border. If your results are not definitive, you may still be able to conceive a child naturally, but you may well be asked to produce a further sample 3 months later and ensure that conditions are right.

Our team understands that undergoing semen analysis can often be a source of anxiety for men and we do our utmost to ensure that the process is as simple and straightforward as possible. Someone will always be on hand to answer any questions you may have and to go through the results with you to ensure that you fully comprehend the situation and can make an informed decision about future treatment options.

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