I found an excellent blog/website yesterday, hellobee. There are several different bloggers that make regular posts on the site about children, pregnancy and infertility. One in particular, Mrs. Pinata, also dealt with MFI. She and her husband adopted their first child after dealing with infertility and are now TTC#2. Earlier this week she posted about SA results, lots of stuff I had never heard before and I wanted to share a piece of the post I found extra interesting. The numbers are astonishing!
When they establish “normal” this does NOT mean average!
For me, this was the most important piece of information to understand. For the first year or so of our fertility journey, I thought that if Mr. Pinata’s semen analysis could get to the normal range that this would mean it would be pretty easy to get pregnant, right? WRONG!
Actually, when they defined normal they took the semen analysis from 4,500 men from over 14 countries. The analysis numbers from those who were able to get their partners pregnant in one year or less were the ones that were used for the basis of “normal”. So, not just men that got their wives pregnant within the first few months were included, but also those for whom it took a whole year! This was very good information to learn.
Not only that, but they put these numbers into percentiles (just like those standardized tests we had to take growing up). When they gathered all the information on the sperm numbers, they consider everything normal that is above the 5th percentile. That’s right! The 5th percentile (where you wouldn’t want to be on a standardized test either)!
Let’s say we’re talking about the total sperm count. It’s in the “normal” range if a man has at least 39 total million sperm. However, 95% of fertile men have MORE sperm than that because that’s the number from the 5th percentile. If you want to know what the average sperm count would be, you would want to look at the 50th percentile and see that the average number of sperm in a sample is actually closer to 255 million! (255 million is actually the median number, which means that half of men have sperm counts higher than 255 million and half have sperm counts lower than 255 million.) Which is quite a lot more than the minimum required to be considered normal.
The Same is true across the board for all parameters including motility, morphology, total volume, etc. This was both encouraging and discouraging at the same time. It was a reminder that just because someone has a “normal” semen analysis doesn’t mean it will necessarily be easy to get pregnant. There may be nothing wrong in the sense that all the numbers are in the normal range, but it can also take longer than you’d like getting pregnant. So, if a couple is having a difficult time conceiving and all the sperm parameters are considered normal, but on the lower end, it definitely makes sense that it might take a little longer. And maybe the not-too invasive procedure of IUI would be a good option for helping it happen quicker by bypassing the uterus. It was also encouraging for me because the chart even shows the numbers in the 2.5th percentile as well. Those numbers may be even lower than normal, but those men did achieve pregnancy with their partners, so getting pregnant with a not-so-ideal semen analysis is definitely possible, just not easy.
To read the entire post click here.