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How to Perform a Sperm Count Using a Microscope

By Gwen Wark ; Updated April 18, 2017

Couples who are having difficulty in trying to conceive may need to evaluate the male partner's sperm count. Without enough viable sperm, fertilization of the egg can be difficult, resulting in difficulty in the woman becoming pregnant. Sperm analysis can be performed by a medical professional; however, there are also methods which allow a sperm count to be performed at home. Kits which contain a microscope allow a couple to examine the count of sperm using a microscope, without having to involve a medical professional.

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Create the test slide. Place one drop of sperm-sized spheres or test solution on a clean glass slide.

Carefully place a cover slip over the specimen. Lay one edge of the cover slip on the slide and drag it towards the specimen. When the slip meets the specimen, release the slip. This method prevents trapped air.

Calibrate the microscope by using the test slide. Set the power to 400x and adjust the coarse and fine focus settings until the sperm sample is easily viewable.

Download the sperm count spreadsheet (see resources) and prepare to tally the results.

Collect a live sperm sample by masturbation into a sterile collection receptacle.

Use the sterile dropper to place a drop of ejaculate onto a clean slide. Prepare the slide by placing a cover slip over the specimen.

Count the sperm in the 400x field of view. Record the numbers on the analysis sheet, or multiply the number by .5 to see the total. The total number of sperm is counted in millions, so a result of 72 would mean approximately 72,000,000 sperm.

Things You Will Need

  • Microscope
  • Clean, dust free glass slides
  • Slide cover slips
  • Sterile sperm collection container
  • Sterile dropper
  • Optional: prepared test slides and sperm sized spheres


Take care to touch only the sides of slides and cover slips. Repeat the test over several days to average the result.


Sperm should be collected after 72 hours of abstinence. Sperm count is only one factor in male fertility; motility and morphology will also play a part. Any count of under twenty four million should be discussed with a medical professional.

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About the Author

Gwen Wark is a freelance writer working from London, Dublin, and New York. She has been a published writer since 1998 with works appearing in both university and local publications. Her current writing projects include SEO, web copy, print and advertising features. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in history from Rutgers University.

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