WHO Recommendations for Manual Sperm Concentration Analysis

April 22, 2014

Maintaining an accurate backup method for any automated analyzer in the laboratory is important.  When it comes to semen analysis, there are many different counting chamber options available.  Correlating manual methods to automated methods can be challenging, especially when it comes to semen analysis.  The first step is picking the correct tool for the job.  Below are the WHO 5th Edition Manual’s recommendations for sperm concentration counting chambers.  To achieve the best possible correlation to the SQA-V Gold Automated Sperm Quality Analyzer, and maintain the most accurate backup method possible these recommendations should be followed.  In particular please note that disposable plastic counting chambers can lead to increased variability.  

2.7.1 Types of counting chambers (From Page 34 of the WHO 5th Edition Manual for Semen Analysis)

The use of 100-m-deep haemocytometer chambers is recommended. Dilution factors for the improved Neubauer haemocytometer chamber are given here. Other deep haemocytometer chambers may be used, but they will have different volumes and grid patterns and will require different factors for calculation. Disposable chambers are available for determining sperm concentration (Seaman et al., 1996; Mahmoud et al., 1997; Brazil et al., 2004b), but they may produce different results from those of the improved Neubauer haemocytometer. Shallow chambers that fill by capillary action may not have a uniform distribution of spermatozoa because of streaming (Douglas-Hamilton et al., 2005a, 2005b). It may be possible to correct for this (Douglas-Hamilton et al., 2005a) but it is not advised (Björndahl & Barratt, 2005). The validity of these alternative counting chambers must be established by checking chamber dimensions (see Appendix 7, section A7.8), comparing results with the improved Neubauer haemocytometer method, and obtaining satisfactory performance as shown by an external quality-control programme. For accurate assessment of low sperm concentrations, large-volume counting chambers may be necessary (see Section 2.11.2).