Sperm Count and Production Semen is a thick, white or grayish secretion that is discharged from the urethra in the penis. It is also called sperm and seminal fluid. Sperm is produced in the testicles and primarily consists of a head and tail. The head carries the hereditary material and the tail is a whip like process that aides in motility. 45%-80% of sperm is mainly produced in the seminal vesicles. Seminal vesicles are a pair of saclike gland structures that sit behind the bladder. The seminal vesicles produce fluid that is added to the secretion from the testicles to form the semen. Their secretions are rich in a sugar called fructose, which is an essential nutrient. This is why sometimes women get yeast infections after frequent unprotected sex. The fructose in the semen causes yeast to grow. The seminal vesicle also produces a substance that causes the semen to clot (sticky or jelly-like), thought to be useful in reproduction for keeping the semen at the neck of a woman’s uterus. The purpose of semen is purely for reproduction, a vehicle to carry the sperm into the female reproductive tract. Although the release of semen accompanies orgasm and sexual pleasure, erection and orgasm are controlled by separate mechanisms and semen emission is not essential for enjoyable sex for most people. Usually, each milliliter of semen contains millions of sperm. The average volume of semen produced during release is 2mL to 5mL. That’s about the amount of half a teaspoon. A good sperm sample will contain the following.

  • A sperm concentration that is at least 20 million per ml.
  • The total number of sperm should be at least 40 million
  • 75% of the sperm should be alive
  • 30% of the sperm should be normal shape and form
  • 50% of the sperm should be swimming and moving forward

When a single or married woman is trying to conceive either via artificial insemination, the husbands or donor semen goes through a process of analysis. Semen analysis is a fertility workup test that involves measuring a freshly collected semen specimen. Tests that may be done during a semen analysis include:

  • Volume- This is a measure of how much semen is present in one ejaculation.
  • Liquefaction time Semen is a thick gel at the time of release and normally becomes liquid within 20 minutes after release. Liquefaction time is a measure of the time it takes for the semen to liquefy.
  • Sperm count- This is a count of the number of sperm present per milliliter of semen in one sample.
  • Sperm morphology This is a measure of the percentage of sperm that have a normal shape.
  • Sperm motility- This is a measure of the percentage of sperm that can move forward normally. The number of sperm that show normal forward movement in a certain amount of semen can also be measured (motile density).
  • pH.- This is a measure of the acidity (low pH) or alkalinity (high pH) of the semen.
  • White blood cell count White blood cells are not normally present in semen.
  • Fructose level- This is a measure of the amount of a sugar called fructose in the semen. The fructose provides energy for the sperm.

References Netdoctor. (2010). Semen and sperm quality. Retrieved from: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/menshealth/facts/semenandsperm.htm Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, & Health Professionals. 7th. Ed. (2006). Mosby Elsevier. St. Louis, MO. WebMD. (2009). Semen Analysis. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/semen-analysis


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