Spermiogram reference values

The lab technician will compare your values with what are called the “reference values.” I have decided not to use the misleading term “normal spermiogram values” but the proper term “reference values.” According to the dictionary, reference values are certain quantities that can be found in a sample set of individuals with a pre-defined state of health. They are the values that your values are compared to. Nothing more, nothing less. Your health could be just as easily be defined using different figures, and it isn’t written anywhere that “good health” might be defined using “worse” indicators!! What is more, even a hotshot guy whose values far exceed the reference values can’t be sure that his sperm will get his partner pregnant – while some guy far below the reference values might be a real stud without any problems with conception. This is because many other factors (such as what is on the sperm’s mind) come into play – or more specifically, the interplay of these factors. It isn’t a simple thing, so there is not need to worry about some stupid numbers...

In 2011, the WHO manual introduced a change in reference values. The following table shows the direction taken by these changes, with a comparison of old and new values:  






Ejaculate volume (ml)



Total sperm count (x106/ejaculate)



Sperm concentration




Total motility (%)



Progressive motility (%)








For analytic types and other bean counters, I recommend reading through the study “World Health Organization reference values for human semen characteristics”, written by a group of experts from around the world. But I am afraid that once you’ve loaded up all the information and become a self-styled “expert,” most andrological laboratories will not be happy to see you.


 Diagnostic terms for evaluating the spermiogram

Normozoospermia: normal ejaculate according to the described values

Asthenozoospermia: reduced sperm motility; the norm is at least 50% of sperms in forward motion or rapid forward motion or 25% in rapid forward motion

Oligozoospermia: sperm count below established norm

Teratozoospermia: few morphologically normal sperm

Oligoastenoteratospermia: mix of poor sperm count, motility, and morphology

Azoospermia: no sperms in the ejaculate

Cryptozoospermia (virtual azoospermia): sperm can only be found through centrifugation

Necrozoospermia: the sperm in the native specimen are dead; the norm is 75% living

Pyospermia: presence of leukocytes in the ejaculate; the norm is 1 million leukocytes

Aspermia: no sperms in the ejaculate; a different term for the more commonly used azoospermia.


Click here to see what it might look like when the results come in (from the film Maybe Baby).


Last edited 05.06.2011 22:51.