What Is Semen Volume?


Semen volume is the quantity or amount of semen produced during ejaculation. According to the WHO, the amount of semen ejaculated can range from 1.4 mL to 6.2 mL.1 There exists a link between volume of semen and the accessory organs of the male reproductive system mentioned below:2

  • Seminal vesicles: Elongated pair of glands that secrete fluids which makes up the semen 
  • Prostate gland: A chestnut-shaped organ that adds secretion during semen ejaculation
  • Bulbourethral glands: Also known as cowper’s gland, they add fluids to semen 
  • Epididymis: Responsible for sperm transport 

 

While seminal vesicles and prostate gland contribute to the volume of semen in a majority,  bulbourethral gland and epididymis contribute to the same with a little proportion.3

male reproductive systemmale reproductive system
male reproductive system

More About Semen


Semen, also known as seminal fluid, is the thick, white component that contains sperm. It is a complex fluid produced by the male reproductive system which is released during ejaculation. 

The role of semen is to carry the sperm along with the other essential nutrients and enzymes. These components facilitate the transfer of sperm into the female vaginal tract. They ensure a safe environment for sperm to survive during this journey. It goes without saying that adequate semen is imperative for the occurence of successful conception. Thus, seminal fluid volume is an important parameter of the semen analysis used to study male fertility.

 

Factors Affecting Semen Volume


Each time men ejaculate, they discharge between 1.25 and 5.00 mL (1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon) of semen on average.4 However, this amount varies from person to person due to the influence of certain factors such as:

 

  • Age
  • Hereditary 
  • Diet 
  • Smoking Status 
  • Overall Health 
  • Environmental Factors 
  • Excessive Alcohol
  • Sleep Disturbances 
  • Sexual Abstinence

 

What Does Variation In The Semen Volume Mean?


1. Low Semen Volume:

A low ejaculation volume can be caused by a vast range of underlying problems:5

 

  • Retrograde Ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation is the occurence of partial or complete discharge of ejaculate into the bladder which results in low or no semen. This might happen if the ejaculation mechanism is disrupted due to structural alterations such as  bladder neck surgeries or trauma. If your blood sugar has been out of order for a long time, it might harm the nerves and blood vessels. This can make nerve signals more difficult to communicate, which can lead to erectile dysfunction and ejaculation issues.

 

  • Anejaculation

It is a condition characterized by the inability to produce semen. This is frequently caused by a neurological condition. While the majority of these individuals have a documented history of an incident (trauma, surgery) preceding their ejaculatory dysfunction, some may have an undiscovered cause, such as spina bifida occulta/tethered cord syndrome.6 (A defect that occurs due to improper formation of the spine and the spinal cord). 

 

  • Ejaculatory Duct Obstruction

Ejaculatory duct obstruction (EDO) occurs when both ejaculatory ducts are completely blocked, resulting in a low-volume ejaculate.

 

  • Congenital Absence Of The Vas/Seminal Vesicles: 

Congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD) is commonly associated with the absence of seminal vesicles or hypoplasia (lack of cells in an organ or tissue). As seminal vesicles account for the majority of ejaculate volume, their absence or hypoplasia (underdevelopment of cells, tissues or organs) might result in a low volume of ejaculate.

 

  • Hypogonadism

Hypogonadism is a condition leading to low testosterone levels. Decreased secretions from the associated organs is the outcome of this order ultimately leading to low-volume ejaculate.

 

  • Idiopathic

The cause of a low volume of semen can be tough to pinpoint at times. However, a thorough examination along with some simple diagnostics can often reveal the underlying cause.

 

2. Increasing Semen Volume: 


Increasing semen volume can generally arise due to abstinence intervals. According to WHO, semen volume grows by 11.9% every day in the first four days following ejaculation. 5 The medical recommendation for sexual abstinence is to refrain from any sexual activity (including masturbation) for at least three days (but no more than seven days) before collecting your sample.5

 

Semen Volume And Fertility 


1. Understanding Hypospermia

 
Fact: 

Hypospermia is a condition that reduces the volume of semen ejaculation which is less than 1.5 mL. A blockage or retrograde ejaculation are common causes. Reduction in volume may affect male fertility since the transport of sperm gets impaired due to lack of fluids.7, 8

Implication:

A man with a good ejaculate volume but low sperm motility and/or morphology may have the same chances of conceiving as a man with hypospermia who produces normal, high-quality sperm. Thus, being diagnosed with hyperspermia doesn’t necessarily indicate issues with fertility. It is the quality of the sperms which plays a vital role. There are no proven methods that promote the production of more sperm. A few commercial pills or dietary supplements may help improve sperm count. If a condition in the seminal vesicle or prostate is causing the lack of semen, a surgical intervention could be performed to correct the problem. Treatment is primarily based on the specific cause of the hypospermia, so it is critical to first identify the cause. In the case of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) either IUI, IVF, ICSI or TESE can be considered based on your Total Motile Count.7, 8

 

2. Understanding Hyperspermia

 

Fact:

Hyperspermia is a condition in which an abnormally large ejaculate (or semen) volume is observed.9 It is the inverse of hypospermia and is commonly identified in humans as when the ejaculate is over 6.2 mL.

Implication:

The impact of hyperspermia on fertility depends mainly on the sperm concentration (number of sperms) in the ejaculate. In most cases, hyperspermia does not severely compromise the chances of conception. In fact, if the number of sperms is proportional to the volume of semen, hyperspermia can actually increase the chances. If the semen quality is low, however, a decrease in the sperm number can occur thereby lowering the chances of fertilization of the egg. There is no clear technique to prevent hyperspermia other than avoiding the known causal variables (extended sexual abstinence, sex enhancing medicines and technologies, high potency steroids). Regardless, patients with this problem should see a urologist.9

 

Ways To Improve Your Sperm Health 


1. Avoid Smoking:

Semen parameters and sperm function test results are lower in smokers than in nonsmokers. Most of these effects are usually dose-dependent.10

 

2. Reduce Alcohol Consumption And Drug Use: 

Drugs (steroids, marijuana) and alcohol can negatively impact sperm health leading to abnormally shaped sperm, decreased sperm motility and/or decreased sperm production.11 

 

3. Maintain Healthy Weight:

There exists a clear link between obesity and reduced sperm production. Overweight men who want to improve their fertility should maintain a healthy weight.12 

 

4. Practice Safe Sex:

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a leading cause of infertility. Having safe sex today may increase your chances of conception in the future.12

 

5. Reduce Heat Exposure: 

Exposure to prolonged high heat (like hot tubs or using laptops on your lap) can affect fertility by lowering sperm production.11, 12

 

6. Avoid Commercial Lubricants:

Some commercial lubricants/substances used for lubrication should be avoided during the fertile period. This may reduce sperm movement and their ability to survive.12

 

7. Choose The Right Clothing:

Men who wear heat retaining clothes experience decreased sperm production 11. As per studies wearing brief underwear may decrease sperm quality. 12

 

8. Manage Your Stress:

Many stress-reducing techniques like Meditation, Yoga, Music, Therapies etc., can effectively keep stress at bay.13

 

How Can You Check Semen Volume? 


You can get a semen analysis done. Semen analysis evaluates the characteristics of a male's semen and the sperm contained therein. 

As a result of social stigma in some parts of the world, many men refrain from getting their semen tested. While in-clinic semen analysis was the only choice previously, there is now an at-home option that delivers concrete data. With LifeCell’s SpermScore, get clarity on your fertility by testing 11 sperm health parameters and 14 sperm health conditions from the comfort of your home!

 

 

References

 

  1. https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240030787
  2. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/male-repro.html  
  3. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/reproductive-health/srhr-documents/infertility/examination-and-processing-of-human-semen-5ed-eng.pdf  
  4. https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/what-factors-determine-semen-volume/  
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792416/ 
  6. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/spina-bifida/  
  7. https://fertilitypedia.org/edu/diagnoses/hypospermia 
  8. https://www.invitra.com/en/hypospermia/  
  9. https://fertilitypedia.org/edu/risk-factors/hyperspermia  
  10. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/globalassets/asrm/asrm-content/news-and-publications/practice-guidelines/for-non-members/smoking_and_infertility.pdf  
  11. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/globalassets/asrm/asrm-content/learning--resources/patient-resources/protect-your-fertility3/asrm_brochure.pdf 
  12. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/optimizing-male-fertility/  
  13. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/globalassets/rf/news-and-publications/bookletsfact-sheets/english-fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/stress_and_infertility_factsheet.pdf 

References