In approximately half of the couples who go to an assisted reproduction clinic because they do not achieve pregnancy, the infertility problem is the male and in most cases as a consequence of poor seminal quality. This is determined from several parameters:
- Semen volume: the normal thing is that between 2 and 5 milliliters are produced per ejaculation. Taking into account that with the number of ejaculations the volume decreases and it increases depending on the time of previous sexual abstinence, systematic values below and above those mentioned are indicative of problems that can affect fertility.
- Its viscosity.
- The way it thickens and then turns liquid.
- The acidity (Ph) and fructose content of the liquid. Citric acid and fructose indicate the secretory capacity of the prostate and seminal vesicles. Normal levels of both substances are above 52 and 13 micromoles, respectively.
- Sperm concentration.
- Sperm motility.
- Shape of the sperm.
- Fragmentation of sperm DNA.
It must be taken into account that the semen that is expelled in each ejaculation is made up of the secretions of different glands and only 5% comes from the testicles, where sperm are produced from germ cells and a liquid very rich in testosterone that allows the former to pass through the epididymis before passing into the semen. The remainder is produced in the seminal vesicles, the prostate, and the bulbourethral and urethral glands. When put together, the different components make the semen appear slimy, sticky in texture and white or grayish (sometimes it may appear slightly yellowish) components of the semen.
The point is that seminal quality can be affected by multiple factors, such as certain diseases (such as varicocele), drug, tobacco and alcohol use, the use of certain drugs, environmental factors such as exposure to toxic substances or ionizing radiation, sexually transmitted infections, fever, working in environments with high temperatures, etc.
Normal seminal quality
The number of dead and abnormal sperm in each semen sample can be surprising. But, in any case, semen quality is considered normal when the following criteria are met:
- The total volume of semen should be between 1.5 and 5 milliliters.
- The sperm concentration must be at least 20 million per milliliter of semen (it can reach 150 million).
- At least 75% of the sperm must be alive.
- 30% of them must be well trained.
- 25% must move forward in a quick movement and 50% must go forward even slowly.
All these values, as well as those of Ph and fructose concentration and those related to viscosity and subsequent liquefaction, can be determined by performing a seminogram or spermiogram.