Penn Fertility Care

Patient Resources

Reproductive Health Information

Semen Analysis

Semen analysis is the cornerstone of testing for male infertility problems. This test provides important information about the quality and quantity of the sperm. The semen sample is analyzed for volume, viscosity (thickness), pH and color of the ejaculate, sperm concentration, motility, morphology, and forward progression of the sperm. The sample is also examined for the presence of white or red blood cells which may indicate infection or inflammation.

Penn Fertility Care performs both manual and computer-assisted semen analyses (CASA). From this simple test, doctors can tell how many sperm are present, how many appear normal and how many are moving. A semen analysis does not assess sperm function. Therefore, it does not accurately answer the question "are the sperm good enough to conceive."

The normal semen parameters established by the World Health Organization are:


Normal Range:


    1.5-5.0 ml

    sperm density

    >20 million sperm/ml




    >30% normal forms

    forward progression

    (scale 1-4) 2+


    no hyperviscosity

    white blood cells

    0-5 per high power field

Collection Instructions

The semen sample should be collected at the laboratory in a special sterile container within 2-5 days of abstinence. Alternatively, the sample may be brought in from home within 1 hour of ejaculation. The sample should be maintained at body temperature. No lubrication should be used while obtaining the sample as it can be toxic to sperm. Occasionally, due to religious reasons, the sample may have to be obtained during intercourse. A special condom designed for this purpose will be provided.

If the semen analysis is abnormal, a second collection is recommended several weeks later because sperm counts tend to fluctuate.