The quest for predicting fertility of an individual, enhancing semen handling, dilution and storage protocols, understanding the impact of environment and toxins on physiology increasingly sophisticated technical advances, andrologists have changed their approaches to semen analysis. The technologies used today to assess semen quality are fast developing and readily implemented in research. Semen is one of a few naturally occurring monocellular suspensions, and therefore sperm function analysis by flow cytometry (FC) and utilization of fluorochromes is an ideal technique for high throughput, objective and accurate analytical tool. The complementary use of microscopical assessments by Computer-Assisted Semen Analysis (CASA), where sperm cell parameters, namely motility and morphology, can be objectively assessed is equally important. The objectivity and repeatability of these techniques have been the drivers in influencing the function, identification of heterogeneity and fertility of the ejaculate. The wealth of knowledge obtained from the application of these powerful methods have changed our view of the spermatozoa.
Although there is some application of these methods in the industry producing boar semen doses for artificial insemination (AI) to aid determination of a breeding sire for sub-standard semen quality, uptake of advanced methods is still slow. Instruments are increasingly becoming cheaper and technically more user friendly. Standardization of methodology and optimization of instrument settings is important if full advantage of these systems including comparison between labs is to be effectively implemented. In this review, we provide an update on the two technologies; Flow cytometry and CASA for objective analysis of boar semen quality measures.