In the female body, all eggs are already present before birth in the ovaries, where a cyclical maturation occurs. In men, however, sperm production only starts at sexual maturation. At puberty, sperm development starts in the testicles, a process that lasts a lifetime in healthy men.
Like egg maturation in women, sperm production is controlled by the sex hormones FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinising hormone). The pituitary gland sends hormonal signals to secrete the sex hormones FSH, which is responsible for the formation and maturation of sperm, and LH, which produces the sex hormone testosterone that controls, among other things, the development of the secondary sex organs and sex drive.
During sexual maturation, millions of sperm cells are produced every day in the seminal ducts of the testes. The sperm remain in the testes for about 10 weeks, after which they migrate into the testes, where they mature further. In the seminal vesicles, the sperm acquire their ability to move. After about 12 weeks, sperm cell formation is complete: healthy sperm cells now have a fully developed head that contains the male genetic make-up, a midpiece that generates kinetic energy, and a tail that propels the sperm cell forward and steers it.
During sexual intercourse, the motile sperm are expelled through the vas deferens and urethra by muscle contractions during ejaculation. The motile sperm penetrate through the vagina into the cervix and uterus and into the fallopian tubes. If there is a mature egg in the fallopian tube, the sperm try to break down the egg's cell wall and attach themselves inside the cell, thus fertilising the egg. On the way into the fallopian tube, many sperm cells succumb, which is why a single ejaculation contains 200-300 million sperm cells (2-5 ml). If the amount of sperm is significantly below this average, or if the sperm in the ejaculate are not sufficiently motile, the man's reproductive ability may be adversely affected.
The causes of an inability to conceive can lie with both the woman and the man. The most common reason for a fertility disorder in men is insufficient production of normally formed, motile sperm. For "normal" sperm quality, the following factors apply according to WHO guidelines:
Amount of ejaculate: 1.5 ml or more
Total number of sperm cells in the ejaculate: At least 40 million sperm cells
Sperm concentration: At least 20 million sperm/ml
Morphology of sperm: At least 15 % normally shaped
Sperm motility: At least 50 % with forward motility or 25 % with progressive motility within 60 min. after ejaculation
In our laboratories, we carry out a semen analysis, where we examine the semen production and the semen quality. Based on the results of the semen analysis, we advise you on further diagnostics and treatment methods.