By: Crizelda Liwanag
The semen or seminal fluid of a human male serves to transport the sperm into the vaginal canal in order for fertilization to occur. It provides lubrication, nutritive substances, enzymes and motility to the sperm cells. Seminal Analysis, also known as semen analysis or seminal fluid analysis consists of analyzing the macroscopic, chemical and microscopic characteristics of the semen. Doctors request this test on a patient for several reasons. This article outlines important facts and reminders for both the patient who will undergo the test and the medical laboratory scientist who will perform the assays.
Common reasons for performing seminal analysis
Four fractions compose the semen or seminal fluid. Structures such as the seminal vesicle, testicles, prostate, epididymis, vas deferens, bulbourethral glands and urethral glands contribute to the formation of these fractions. If there is anything wrong with any of these structures, something goes wrong with the ability of the semen to perform its function. A seminal analysis will therefore aid the doctor in pinpointing diseases or conditions. In addition, results of this test ensure effectiveness of vasectomy, determine probability of infertility, and evaluate qualifications for assisted reproductive technology methods. Forensic experts also use this test for investigation of rape and paternity allegations.
Precautions to follow during specimen collection and processing
The patient performs the specimen collection via masturbation or the use of Silastic condoms after at least two days of abstinence from intercourse and masturbation. Ordinary commercially available condoms cause errors in the test. The patient must place the specimen in a warm, sterile, wide-mouthed, and labeled plastic container. It should reach the laboratory for seminal analysis within an hour after collection, maintained at a temperature between 20 to 40°C.
The results of a single test will not suffice
The doctor interprets the Seminal analysis based on result of several specimens (usually three) combined. More often than not, (except in forensic studies) it is not enough to perform only a single seminal analysis to arrive at a decision.