Should you be concerned that your semen or ejaculate volume is not enough?
Many men are concerned that their ejaculate and semen volume is too small and that this could mean that they could be less fertile or infertile.
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The ejaculate is fluid consisting of sperms and seminal fluid which a man emits during orgasm. A normal amount of semen volume of the ejaculate is required to transport sperm into the female reproductive tract and allow for fertilization of the oocyte. That is why the volume of the ejaculate is part of evaluating a man's ejaculate during an infertility evaluation via a sperm analysis.
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Sperm are produced within the testis, and the travel through the male reproductive tract, and as it travels, additional seminal fluid is added from the seminal vesicles, prostate, testis and epididymis, and periurethral glands.
An adequate volume of ejaculate is required to carry the male gametes into the female reproductive tract, and thus ejaculate volume is an important component of a semen analysis done to investigate male factor infertility.
The normal amount of the volume of the ejaculate should be over 1.5-2 ml, so anything below is considered too low. Normal semen volume ranges from two to six ml (2-6 ml) and the majority of fluid (about 65%) is produced in the seminal vesicles. Semen volume is measured during a standard semen analysis which is typically ordered as part of a fertility profile, but the volume may not be as important as you think.
Semen volume does not equate to fertility
Men with low semen volume can be more fertile than men with normal or higher semen volume. Within semen are sperm – healthy and unhealthy. Motility, forward movement, and morphology are all taken into account when determining male fertility. A man with normal semen volume can have a low overall sperm count, low motility, or poor morphology. These elements would decrease fertility. On the opposite end of the spectrum are men with lower than normal semen volume with normal/high sperm count, excellent motility, and morphology. So, even with less volume, this man would be considered more fertile than the man who produces normal semen volume. Here is a good review of low sperm volume.
Can you increase semen volume?
There are various factors, including age and heredity, that contribute to the amount of semen volume you produce, but that doesn’t mean semen volume is completely out of your control. Dehydration can play an important role in semen volume. The rule of thumb out is that if you are thirsty your body is already dehydrated. Drink water to hydrate the body and prevent thirst. Increase water intake on hot days or during and after exercise. Keeping hydrated can naturally increase semen volume. You can also choose to abstain from sex for a couple of days to build semen volume, but don’t worry about waiting weeks. The body will only produce so much semen and it doesn’t build indefinitely.
If you are facing semen analysis as part of a fertility workup don’t worry if your semen volume level appears slightly below normal. Semen volume plays an important role in conception, but normal volume values are guides for fertility doctors to use when determining overall reproductive health. Slightly lower semen volume is not necessarily an indication of reduced fertility.