Can I get a semen analysis test to make sure everything is normal?
Continuing our theme of “just out of curiosity” lab tests, a couple of people have recently asked me if they could get a semen analysis just to make sure everything is OK with Big Jim and Twins. So let’s chat.
Typically a semen analysis is only done for two main reasons: to make sure a vasectomy was successful, and as part of an infertility work-up. Since these are things we rarely deal with in college health, we hardly ever order them. When we do, we have to send guys over to the medical center to get it done.
A semen analysis measures the volume and pH (acidity level) of the semen as well as the concentration, shape and motility of the sperm. I have a sneaking suspicion that the “volume” thing is what is getting some guys worried.
Despite what you may have seen on your tours through the slippery world of internet porn – where ejaculation is closer to some type of bizarre, penile Super Soaker tournament than reality – the standard mean ejaculate volume for semen analysis testing is 3.7 milliliters (mL) and isn’t considered to be low unless it’s below 1.5 mL. So normal ejaculate volume is less than a teaspoon.
Lots of things can affect the appearance and volume of ejaculate – how long it’s been since your last sexual activity, level of arousal, hydration status, etc. – but it’s very rare for any of these things to be a sign of a problem. Now, if you’re having NO ejaculation with orgasm, or pain with ejaculation, or premature ejaculation or inability to ejaculate, make sure you see your health care provider to get that checked out.
We can’t order a semen analysis test without a valid medical indication, and unfortunately “I just want to check” doesn’t cut it. Without a valid reason, the test won’t be covered by insurance and you’d be getting a bill for over $370.
But don’t worry about wasting your money on tests you don’t need or “male enhancers” that don’t do anything. You wanna “enhance” your sexual health and happiness? Stop by the Student Health Center pharmacy and pick up a box of condoms for $1.50 – believe me, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck!
John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University