Normally semen liquefies at the environmental temperature in 30 up to 60 minutes due to the influence of the prostatic enzymes. If in 60 minute fails to liquefy it must be noted as this fact can signal a prostatic dysfunction. Also the semen sample must be mixed in the original container, and its incorrect mixing can lead to major errors in semen concentration evaluation.
Normal semen has a grey –opalescent color, it can be clear if it has a low sperm content or it can be brown if the ejaculate presents sanguine cells (hematospermia). Mucus bands presence can interfere with counting procedure and points out a possible inflammation or abnormal liquefying. Semen has to be analyzed right after liquefaction in maximum one hour after ejaculation. Samples which fail to liquefy require additional treatment- bromeline exposure, to make them suitable for examination.
It is measured in a graded cylinder, syringe or pipette (plastic syringe or hypodermic needles can affect sperm motility). Most part of the semen volume is secreted by the seminal vesicles and 0.5 up to 1 ml is secreted by the prostate. A small ejaculate volume suggests seminal vesicles dysfunction but it can also emerge in the incomplete ejaculation cases or partial/ retrograde ejaculation. A large ejaculate volume indicates the presence of varicocele or signals a large period of sexual abstinence.
Also known as viscosity, semen’s consistence is measured by dropping a small drop on a surface and by measuring its length. In the case of normal semen, with normal consistence the formed drip is small, while in abnormal conditions the drip is thick and is more than a 2 cm long. Abnormal consistence can interfere with some semen characteristics as motility, concentration or antispermatic antibodies. Increased viscosity can signal prostatic dysfunctions or chronic inflammations.
Semen pH is given by acid prostate secretions and seminal vesicle alkaline secretions. The normal pH limits are between 7.2 and 7.8; a pH above 7.8 indicates an infection which assumes the decrease of the acid prostatic secretions. An abnormal pH can be caused by an incomplete ejaculation when the seminal vesicles have partially released their content. An acid pH (6.5) emerges in agenesis cases or seminal vesicles occlusions, azoospermia, deferential or epididymal dysgenesis.