Semen Analysis

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Arranging semen analysis appointments

All requests for semen analysis should be made electronically by the requesting Doctor using the lab requesting system (ICE, Allscripts, Lorenzo, Tquest). The laboratory will automatically be informed of the request and we will contact the patient to arrange an appointment. Please ensure patient contact details are up to date.

Most appointments are for patients to pass the sample is one of our private rooms.

For surgeries that wish the patient to pass a semen sample in one of our private rooms (or if surgery has no packs) : Request ‘I want to collect sample later’ and print out a postponed summary. This summary should be emailed to andrology.lab@mft.nhs.uk and we will then send the patient an appointment.

Can samples be passed at home?
Yes, but an electronic request must be made and an appointment is required to drop the sample at the laboratory within one hour of passing the sample. Some GP surgeries have our semen analysis packs. If not, patients can arrange to collect one from us (once the test has been ordered) by emailing mft.andrology.lab@nhs.net.

If you have any questions, please email mft.andrology.lab@nhs.net.

Arranging semen analysis without an electronic request

We appreciate that there are a small number of GP surgeries that do not have access to electronic requesting. You can also refer via The Care Gateway and referrals should be sent to: Specialty – Urology AND Clinic Type – Erectile Dysfunction / Andrology. Email a request to mft.andrology.lab@nhs.net with the patient name, date of birth, full postal address, referring GP, referring GP practice, NHS number, patient’s mobile number and email address.

An appointment will then be sent to the patient.

Please note that appointments cannot be given to patients over the telephone without a request having been received in Andrology.

The patient must bring the specimen directly to Andrology reception in the Department of Reproductive Medicine, Old Saint Mary’s Hospital on Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9WL (if using Sat Nav enter post code M13 0JH), at their appointment time.

Retrograde semen analysis

Retrograde ejaculation is a condition where semen is ejaculated backwards into the bladder. Some patients may be able to produce semen if masturbation takes place whilst the bladder is full. The urine is examined for the presence of spermatozoa, if there are no spermatozoa in the semen sample or if no semen is produced.

Sample acceptance policy

It is desirable that samples are labelled with four unique identifiers but mandatory that samples are labelled with at least three unique identifiers which are as follows :

  • Surname
  • Forename
  • Date of birth
  • Hospital number
  • NHS number

The request form data MUST match the above information on the sample. Where the sample is repeatable/ reproducible, no analysis will be performed and the sample will be discarded. A repeat sample will be requested. Andrology will accept no responsibility for analysed samples which initially failed to meet the acceptance criteria and will issue a disclaimer on such reports.

A lack of patient or sample information may result in the laboratory not conducting the analysis/ examination. Examples could include :

  • No dates and times of sampling
  • Location for report delivery not given

Request forms SHOULD also contain :

  • The patient’s location/ destination for the report (or a location code)
  • Tests required
  • Name of Consultant or GP
  • Name of the requester and contact number (bleep or extension)
  • Date and time of sample collection
  • Type of sample
  • All relevant clinical information
  • Patient address for GP requests

Specimen containers

Some plastics are toxic to sperm and can affect sperm motility. Andrology provide specimen containers that have passed toxicity testing and are suitable for semen specimens.

Reference ranges

Reports show reference values from the WHO guidelines 2010. Lower reference limits (5th centiles and their 95% confidence intervals) for semen characteristics :

Parameter Lower reference limit
Semen volume (ml) 1.5 (1.4-1.7)
Total sperm number (106 per ejaculate) 39 (33-46)
Sperm concentration (106 per ml) 15 (12-16)
Progressive motility (PR, %) 32 (31-34)
Sperm morphology (normal forms, %) 4 (3.0-4.0)
Vitality (live spermatozoa, %) 58 (55-63)
pH ≥ 7.2

For the distribution of values for semen parameters from men whose partners became pregnant within 12 months of discontinuing contraceptive use click here.

Measurement uncertainty values for semen analysis

Every measurement is subject to some uncertainty. Measurement uncertainty can come from the measuring instrument, from the item being measured, from the environment, from the operator and from other sources. Measurement uncertainties can be estimated using statistical analysis of a set of measurements. The use of good practice such as traceable calibration, careful calculation, good record keeping, and checking can reduce measurement uncertainties.

In order to provide a measure of confidence in results produced by a laboratory, it is necessary to identify all factors which may contribute to variation of measurement in a process and assess the potential to influence uncertainty. Once identified these factors must be reduced or controlled to an acceptable level and a value for the range of acceptable uncertainty assigned where possible.

Andrology has determined the measurement uncertainty values for semen analysis. They are reviewed regularly and reassessed whenever a significant change in the procedure occurs, e.g. new equipment or modification of the assay.
These uncertainty measurement values are available upon request.

Turnaround times

Semen analysis (concentration, motility and morphology) 

5 working days from receipt of specimen.

Information for patients

There is a patient information leaflet : Infertility Semen Analysis which you can find here or in the patient leaflets section of our website.

A semen analysis is usually advised if a couple are having difficulty conceiving (becoming pregnant). Primary infertility is an extremely common problem, affecting more than one in seven couples attempting their first pregnancy. Among those experiencing difficulty with conception, a male fertility problem is considered important in around 40 per cent of couples.

The sample will be analysed according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards for volume, pH, concentration, motility, viability and morphology. Results are sent to the referring doctor within 5 working days of the semen analysis.

download Making Semen Analysis Requests and Appointments on ICE

Factors that may affect semen analysis results

Some plastics are toxic to sperm so specimen containers must be obtained from Andrology as these have been tested for toxicity.

Extremes of temperature can damage sperm so the sample should be kept at body temperature whilst being transported to the laboratory, for example by carrying it in an inside pocket.

A condom and/or artificial lubrication must not be used for semen collection, as it will kill the sperm.

Motility of sperm can decline over time so it is important that the semen sample is examined within an hour of it being produced.

The sperm are in the first part of the ejaculate so the whole of the specimen should be collected.

The number of days of sexual abstinence can affect the quality of sperm.

Abstinence should be between 2 – 7 days (3 or 4 days is best) for semen analysis.

Viscous specimens or specimens where there is sperm agglutination can affect semen analysis results.