Nov 25 2009

Semen and Semen Analysis

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Other common names:

  • Cum
  • Jizz
  • Spunk
  • Load
  • Seed


A new life is created by combining a single sperm from the man with a single egg from a woman. In order to achieve this, the male partner needs to be able to produce healthy and fertile sperm. During ejaculation, the man will ejaculate a mixture of components called semen.

Human Semen in a Glass Bowl (Source:public domain)


Collecting Semen

When sperm and semen needs to be studied, one of four collection methods are used

  • Masturbation into a cup
  • Sex with a collection condom
  • Sex with the pull-out method into a cup
  • Needle extraction from the epididymis

If this is not done in a medical facility, the semen have to be kept out of direct sunlight and be delivered to the laboratory within 1 hour of ejaculation

Where does semen come from and what does it contain

Gland Quantity % Description
Testes (Balls) 2 – 5% Approximately 40 to 600 million spermatozoa (also called sperm or spermatozoans), produced in the testes, are released per ejaculation.
Seminal Vesicle 65 – 75% Amino acids,
Fructose (the main energy source of sperm cells, which rely entirely on sugars from the seminal plasma for energy),
Prostaglandins (involved in suppressing an immune response by the female against the foreign semen),
Vitamin C
Prostrate 25 – 30% Acid phosphatase,
Citric acid,
Prostate specific antigen (PSA),
Proteolytic enzymes,
Zinc (serves to help to stabilize the DNA-containing chromatin in the sperm cells. A zinc deficiency may result in lowered fertility because of increased sperm fragility. Zinc deficiency can also adversely affect spermatogenesis.)
Bulbourethral Glands < 1% Glactose,
Mucus (serve to increase the mobility of sperm cells in the vagina and cervix by creating a less viscous channel for the sperm cells to swim through, and preventing their diffusion out of the semen. Contributes to the cohesive jelly-like texture of semen.),
Sialic acid

Normal Semen

Semen is usually a cloudy white fluid that within 30 minutes becomes runny and clear. It is normal for semen to have a chlorine type smell. Semen tastes slightly sweet due to fructose. The taste of semen tends to change slightly from person to person.

Problems Semen

  • Low Volume of Ejaculate – A decrease in semen, or an absence of semen from the seminal vesicle, can sometimes be due to a blockage.

  • Watery Semen – Watery semen is usually a sign of retrograde ejaculation in which the ejaculate goes backwards into the bladder. This is not dangerous, but abnormal liquefaction of semen may also be caused by prostate abnormalities, such as prostatitis.

  • Thick or Lumpy Semen – The viscosity of semen can vary for a number of different reasons. Consistently thick semen does restrict the ability of the sperm to move about, so this can be important if you and your partner are trying for a baby. Volume may also be low due to low hydration, fluids used up during sex may result in a small amount of ejaculate, or if you repeat the sex act and/or ejaculate in a short period of time this will also effect the amount produced. Volume and sperm production can decline with age, but potency is not necessarily affected.

  • Red or Brown Colored Semen – If your semen is stained with a red or brown colored fluid it may be caused by blood. Sometimes a small blood vessel may burst when you ejaculate. Within a day or two the semen should return to its normal state, so there should be no need to worry. If it continues then you should see your doctor. Blood in semen may be present for many different reasons, such as infection, trauma and sometimes, but rarely, cancer.
  • Yellowish or Green Colored Semen – Normal semen may have an off-white or yellow hint to the color. Where semen is uncharacteristically yellow or greenish in color it is a sign of infection, often due to a sexually transmitted disease called gonorrhea. Go to your local STD clinic. If it is gonorrhea, treatment is simple with the use of antibiotics.
  • Foul Smelling Semen – Foul smelling semen is almost always a sign of infection. Seek medical help.
  • Foul Fishy Smell from Vagina after Ejaculation – The female partner has a bacterial infection called Bacterial Vaginosis. She should seek medical help 


  • Semen Analysis

    The following is measured during a semen analysis:

    • Volume – How much semen is ejaculated and how many sperms are in this semen
    • Liquifacation Time – How long does it take for semen to turn from the gel like substance to liquid to allow the sperm to escape from the semen
    • Sperm Count – The number of sperm per ml of semen ejaculated
    • Sperm Morphology – A measure f the number of sperm that are properly formed
    • Sperm Motility – The ability of sperm to move forward on their own
    • Semen pH- A measure of acidity and alkalinity of the semen
    • White blood count – How many are present in the sperm
    • Fructose Level – Fructose is a sugar that provides energy to the sperm.


    Dimension Normal Problem
    Semen Volume Minimum 2 ml
    Maximum 6 ml
    Lower volume will cause problems and a Higher volume may be an indication of problems
    Liquefacation Time 20 – 30 minutes after ejaculation A longer liquefacation time is problematic because the sperm will not be able to escape from the semen. It can be an indication of an infection in the male genital tract
    Sperm Count (numbers) 20 million per ml with a minimum of 40 million A lower sperm count is a sign of fertility problems
    Sperm Morphology (shape) > 70% health shape Abnormal sperm is normal but a high percentage is problematic
    Sperm Motility (movement) > 60% forward movement Sperm that can not swim through the cervical mucus cannot get to the egg
    pH (acidity) pH 7.2 – 8.0 Outside these parameters the sperm will get damaged
    White Blood Cells No white blood cells or bacteria Bacteria or a large amount of white blood cells

    Semen Allergy

  • A semen allergy in a woman is caused by an allergic reaction to a particular protein in semen. The allergy is also not to one man’s semen, but to a protein present in all semen. This allergic reaction could happen during the very first time a man ejaculates inside you, or it can happen suddenly after many years of absolutely no problems. The symptoms of a semen allergy include burning and itching. Once you have developed a semen allergy, the allergic reaction is everywhere semen touches you, in your vagina, vulva, anus, mouth, face and body.

    Often a semen allergic reaction can be confused with something like chronic vaginitis. The way to confirm that you are indeed experiencing a semen allergy is to contrast unprotected sex with condom sex. Make sure the condom is a polyurethane condom to rule out a latex allergy and avoid adding any lubricant. If the symptoms does not appear with the condom on, it is time to look at a possible semen allergy.

    Your doctor will start with a complete gynecologic pelvic exam. The next step is to do an allergy test where a small amount of your partner’s semen is injected under your skin.

    A semen allergy is treated with a desensitization treatment. This is a safe and normally effective treatment and it will be done under the supervision of an allergist or immunologist. It is called a "graded challenge" where diluted solutions of semen are placed in your vagina every twenty minutes until you are able to tolerate undiluted semen. In order to maintain the desensitization, the women will have to be exposed to male semen at least once every 48 hours. A semen allergy might go away as quickly as it started.





    Where does Semen come from?

    During the process of ejaculation, sperm passes through the ejaculatory ducts and mixes with fluids from the seminal vesicles, the prostate, and the bulbourethral glands to form the semen. The seminal vesicles produce a yellowish viscous fluid rich in fructose and other substances that makes up about 70% of human semen. The prostatic secretion, influenced by dihydrotestosterone, is a whitish (sometimes clear), thin fluid containing proteolytic enzymes, citric acid, acid phosphatase and lipids. The bulbourethral glands secrete a clear secretion into the lumen of the urethra to lubricate it.

    Sertoli cells, which nurture and support developing spermatocytes, secrete a fluid into seminiferous tubules that helps transport sperm to the genital ducts. The ductuli efferentes possess cuboidal cells with microvilli and lysosomal granules that modify the semen by reabsorbing some fluid. Once the semen enters the ductus epididymis the principle cells, which contain pinocytotic vessels indicating fluid reabsorption, secrete glycerophosphocholine which most likely inhibits premature capacitation. The accessory genital ducts, the seminal vesicle, prostate glands, and the bulbourethral glands, produce most of the seminal fluid.

    Seminal plasma of humans contains a complex range of organic and inorganic constituents.

    The seminal plasma provides a nutritive and protective medium for the spermatozoa during their journey through the female reproductive tract. The normal environment of the vagina is a hostile one for sperm cells, as it is very acidic (from the native microflora producing lactic acid), viscous, and patrolled by immune cells. The components in the seminal plasma attempt to compensate for this hostile environment. Basic amines such as putrescine, spermine, spermidine and cadaverine are responsible for the smell and flavor of semen. These alkaline bases counteract the acidic environment of the vaginal canal, and protect DNA inside the sperm from acidic denaturation.

    A 1992 World Health Organization report described normal human semen as having a volume of 2 ml or greater, pH of 7.2 to 8.0, sperm concentration of 20×106 spermatozoa/ml or more, sperm count of 40×106 spermatozoa per ejaculate or more, and motility of 50% or more with forward progression (categories a and b) of 25% or more with rapid progression (category a) within 60 minutes of ejaculation.[1]

  • Appearance and consistency of human semen


    Human semen.

    Most semen is white in colour, but grey or even yellowish semen can be normal as well. Blood in the semen can cause a pink or reddish colour, known as hematospermia, and may indicate a medical problem which should be evaluated by a doctor if it does not readily disappear.[2]

    After ejaculation, semen first goes through a clotting process and then becomes more liquid. It is postulated that the initial clotting helps keep the semen in the vaginal canal, but liquefaction frees the sperm to make their long journey to the ova. Immediately after ejaculation semen is typically a sticky, jelly-like liquid often forming globules. Within 5 to 40 minutes it will become more watery and liquid before finally drying.[3]

    Semen quality

    Main article: Semen quality

    Semen quality is a measure of the ability of semen to accomplish fertilization. Thus, it is a measure of fertility in a man. It is the sperm in the semen that is the fertile component, and therefore semen quality involves both sperm quantity and sperm quality.

    Health effects

    In addition to its central role in reproduction, various scientific findings indicate that semen has certain beneficial effects on human health, both proven benefits and possible benefits:

    • Antidepressant: One study suggested that vaginal absorption of semen could act as an antidepressant in women; the study compared two groups of women, one of which used condoms and the other did not.[4]
    • Cancer prevention: Studies suggest that seminal plasma both prevents and fights cancer, particularly breast cancer,[5] reducing risk by "not less than 50 percent."[6][7] This effect is attributed to its glycoprotein and selenium content, with apoptosis being induced by TGF-Beta. A related urban legend parodied these findings and claimed that performing fellatio at least three times a week reduced the risk of breast cancer.[8]
    • Preeclampsia prevention: It has been hypothesized that substances in semen condition a mother’s immune system to accept the "foreign" proteins found in sperm as well as the resulting fetus and placenta, keeping blood pressure low and thereby reducing the risk of preeclampsia. Regular exposure to the baby’s father’s semen, especially orally, may help make a woman’s pregnancy safer and more successful, because she is absorbing her partner’s antigens.[9]


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