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What Is Semen Analysis?

vasectomy is widely recognised as an effective method of permanent contraception for men. However, the journey doesn’t end with the procedure itself. A test on a semen sample is needed to determine your sperm count, with the obvious aim being zero.

The Cooper Clinic answers your questions: what is semen analysis and why is it needed after your snip?

A semen analysis test (male sperm count test) is a critical test conducted after a vasectomy to confirm the absence of sperm in the ejaculate. This analysis of your semen sample is crucial as it verifies that the vasectomy has successfully resulted in male infertility.

Understanding this male fertility testing on semen is key for men who have undergone a vasectomy, providing them with peace of mind and assurance about their sperm production and reproductive health.

What Is The Purpose Of A Post-Vasectomy Semen Analysis Test?

The main purpose of sperm production tests post your snip is to ensure male infertility. In other words, the doctor can give you final clearance to have unprotected sex without the risk of pregnancy.

The Timing And Frequency Of The
Post-Vasectomy Semen Analysis Test

After a vasectomy, it takes some time for existing sperm (male reproductive cells) to be completely cleared from your system. Therefore, this analysis is crucial in determining when it’s safe to consider that vasectomy has been fully effective in achieving male infertility. It’s the definitive way to confirm that the human semen no longer contains live sperm and that the risk of pregnancy is virtually eliminated.

The first semen sample is typically taken around 12 weeks post-vasectomy according to the American Urological Association guidelines. You may be asked to provide more than one sample over the next few weeks or months, depending on your initial results.

what is semen analysis

Once you have had a vasectomy, we need to analyse your semen for the presence of live sperm. Once it’s determined there are no sperm present in semen, you will be given the all-clear by your doctor or surgeon.

Preparing For Post-Vasectomy
Semen Analysis

what is semen analysis

Once you have had a vasectomy, we need to analyse your semen for the presence of live sperm. Once it’s determined there are no sperm present in semen, you will be given the all-clear by your doctor or surgeon.

You will be provided with detailed instructions on how to prepare and collect your semen sample. This advice includes:

  • Avoid ejaculation or any sexual activity for 2 to 5 days
  • It is recommended to ejaculate at least 20 times before your sperm analysis
  • The sperm sample needs to be collected on-site (in a private room), or if providing a sample at home it needs to be delivered to a testing laboratory within an hour or less
  • You will be provided with a wide-mouthed container for your semen sample.

Semen Collection And
Analysis Process

The semen collection process involves ejaculating into a sterile container, usually provided by The Cooper Clinic but also available at a laboratory. The lab test to check for male fertility usually looks at:

  • Semen volume
  • Sperm concentration
  • Sperm health
  • Sperm quality
  • Sperm vitality
  • Sperm shape

These things are not relevant when checking to see if a vasectomy has been successful. Instead, when analysing post-vasectomy semen samples we focus on sperm count and motility.

Sperm count

We report a normal sperm count as the number of sperm per millilitre of semen. Using a microscope, we identify and count how many sperm are present using a special counting chamber. This count is crucial post-vasectomy to confirm the absence of sperm, which would indicate the procedure’s success.

Sperm motility

If sperm are found in the sample, we can analyse their motility. After a vasectomy, the presence of motile sperm is particularly significant. We cannot grant clearance if any are found, as even a single motile sperm may result in pregnancy.

Interpreting Post-Vasectomy
Semen Analysis Results

Understanding the results of this semen analysis helps determine if your vasectomy has been successful. A ‘negative’ test indicates no sperm presence, while a ‘positive’ test may show some sperm.

  • Zero sperm (~90% of patients): Indicates a successful vasectomy
  • Low sperm count (dead sperm) (~9% of patients): Suggests a successful procedure
  • Large amount of dead sperm (<1% of patients): Likely a successful vasectomy, but requires additional semen analysis. In this case, we would re-test in another month, and after 20 further ejaculations
  • Live sperm (around 1 in 2000 patients): The presence of live sperm, even if it is a low sperm count, could indicate a failure of the procedure. We would re-test after another 20 ejaculations and in a month. If there is live sperm in 2 subsequent semen analyses we deem the vasectomy a failure and will repeat your procedure at no cost

A DIY home test is not recommended by The Cooper Clinic due to the limitations in sensitivity, differences between brands and user error.

what is semen analysis

You will be given a sterile container to take home to ensure the sample is collected without contamination. You will also be provided further advice about how to prepare for and provide semen for analysis.

Why Does Post-Vasectomy Semen
Analysis Show Live Sperm?

what is semen analysis

You will be given a sterile container to take home to ensure the sample is collected without contamination. You will also be provided further advice about how to prepare for and provide semen for analysis.

Persistent sperm in semen post-vasectomy are considered abnormal results and can be due to several reasons:

Incomplete clearance

After a vasectomy, it takes time for sperm already beyond the point of the cut or blockage in the vas deferens to be ejaculated or reabsorbed by the body. This is why multiple ejaculations over a period (often a few months) are required before the semen is free of sperm.


In rare cases, the cut ends of the vas deferens can spontaneously reconnect in a process called recanalisation. This can allow sperm to re-enter the semen, making the vasectomy ineffective. This doesn’t mean the procedure has failed, rather it is your body’s healing ability that has caused the reversal.

Early testing

Conducting a semen analysis too soon after the procedure can result in finding sperm, as there hasn’t been enough time or ejaculations for the existing sperm to clear out of the system. This may result in you needing to conduct a repeat test, which can be avoided by following the instructions of the expert team at The Cooper Clinic.

Incomplete procedure

If the vasectomy was not performed correctly, or if only one vas deferens was cut (since there are two), sperm may continue to be present in the semen. This is an extremely rare occurrence.

It’s a shared responsibility between The Cooper Clinic and our patient to follow up with post-vasectomy semen analysis to confirm the absence of sperm and ensure the effectiveness of the procedure.

The Cooper Clinic Ensures Successful Vasectomy Outcomes

The Cooper Clinic provides top-of-the-line vasectomy and semen analysis with our expertise, advanced techniques, and comprehensive care. Our skilled team specialises in less invasive, no-scalpel vasectomies, ensuring procedures with minimal recovery time and complications.

With a patient-centred approach, The Cooper Clinic prioritises comfort and confidentiality, with efficient services to minimise any disruption to your daily life. Our commitment to successful outcomes is evident in every aspect of our service, providing patients with a satisfying experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A post-vasectomy analysis of your semen looks at your sample under a microscope in a laboratory. The primary goal is to check for the presence or absence of sperm in the semen. The lab technicians will look at the volume of the ejaculate and analyse any sperm found for their count and motility (movement). This analysis is crucial to confirm that the vasectomy was successful and that the semen does not contain any live sperm.

While there are home sperm test kits available, they may not be suitable for post-vasectomy analysis. These kits are generally designed to assess male fertility issues, not sterility, and may not be sensitive enough to detect low or absent sperm counts accurately. For accurate results, it’s recommended to undergo professional analysis as instructed by your healthcare provider.

To prepare for a post-vasectomy analysis of your semen, follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider. Common guidelines include:

  • Abstain from ejaculation for a certain period (often 2-5 days) before the test
  • Collect a clean sample through masturbation directly into a sterile container (usually provided by your doctor)
  • Ensure the entire ejaculate is collected in the container
  • Deliver the sample to the laboratory within a specific time frame, usually within an hour of collection, keeping it at body temperature during transport
  • Avoiding the use of lubricants or other substances that might contaminate the sample.
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