Explanation of tests for person providing sperm

Semen fluid analysis (SFA)

This tells the care team ejaculate volume, sperm count, sperm motility, sperm speed, seminal fluid viscosity, and other semen plasma parameters.

  • Viscosity is a measure of how fluid the semen is, 30 minutes after ejaculation. Special lab procedures must be used when preparing sperm when semen has an abnormal viscosity.
  • Sperm speed is a measure of how quickly and vigorously the sperm are moving. Slower moving sperm have a lesser ability to fertilize an egg than sperm that are moving at a rapid rate.
The normal range of parameters evaluated during SFA are:
Parameter Normal Range*
Days of Continence (DC)** 2 to 7 days optimal
Volume ≥1.5 ml
pH of seminal fluid ≥7.2
Motile sperm/ejaculate (x106) *** ≥9
Sperm/ejaculate (x106) ≥39
Motile sperm/ml (x106) ≥6
Sperm/ml (x106) ≥15
% Motile ≥40%
Speed 3 or 4 (active)
Viscosity 4 (low)
Agglutination 4 (<5%)
Post ejaculate urine For lab use only unless noted in comments.

* 2010 WHO Laboratory Manual for the Examination of Human Semen-Cervical Mucus Interaction (Fifth Edition).
** Days of Abstinence
***106 =1,000,000


This is done to assess sperm head shape, sperm tail defects, and the percentage of sperm that appear to have normal morphology.

Post-ejaculate urine analysis

This looks for sperm in the urine after ejaculation. A person may have retrograde ejaculation (sperm released into the bladder) if there are many sperm in the urine. Sperm can be taken from the urine used for IVF.

Semen cryopreservation

Semen is frozen, if needed or wanted, before the IVF cycle. Then sperm will be available for oocyte insemination on the day of retrieval.

Last reviewed: 
November 2021

Interested in using our health content?