When it comes to health, love and possibly money, more may be better. But what’s the scoop when it comes to the amount of semen produced with ejaculation? Does more mean more potency or better fertility?
Funny thing is, this issue really runs deep with men. In several religions, semen is precious and can’t be spilled or wasted. Throughout human history, this liquid has some serious gravitas; in fact its importance is…wait for it…seminal.
A Poker Hand
As a male fertility specialist, I have reviewed literally hundreds of thousands of semen samples from tens of thousands of men. From this experience, I have concluded that a semen sample is like a hand of cards. Each measurement, such as semen volume, sperm concentration, motility and shape, is like a poker card with its own value or meaning. But together they also have a larger meaning or “look” that can have clinical significance. For example, if the semen volume and the sperm concentration are both low, then this could reflect something called retrograde ejaculation, in which semen preferentially goes backwards into the bladder instead of forward through the penis into the real world. In essence, the big picture matters most, and as with many things in life, the “look” and not the amount matters more for semen.
Although one may think that unleashing a bigger load of semen makes you more of a man, outside of pornography, the facts do not bear this out. There is no real correlation of semen volume or force of ejaculation with testosterone levels, virility, erectile capability, sexual competence or fertility. Semen volume has less to do with manhood than simply the size of the seminal vesicles that produce it, as these paired internal organs behind the prostate are the main contributors to semen volume. And since, sperm enters the semen from separate channels leading out of the testicle, their numbers are relatively independent of semen volume. Therefore, high volume ejaculates may in fact have lower sperm concentrations due to dilution issues. However, fertility is typically unaffected either way, so no worries here.
The story is quite different when semen volumes are low (< 2 mL). When this occurs, my interest perks up considerably as there are only a few good reasons for having a low ejaculate volume.
The most common among them is incomplete collection. Sometimes men simply miss the cup and hit the wall instead. This is especially common on the first attempt at procuring a semen sample as men must think about what they’re doing (and collect the sample) while ejaculating. I refer to this as “first sample syndrome” and it typically goes away with more experience and repeat samples.
If the seminal vesicles are missing or blocked, due to genetic or acquired disorders, ejaculate volumes are typically low, and fertility is impaired.
With low testosterone levels, semen volumes can also be reduced as sex gland secretions are Vitamin T-dependent in general.
Medications such as alpha blockers for prostatic enlargement or finasteride for hair loss can also impact semen volume by reducing production in the seminal vesicles.
Finally, medical conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis and procedures involving the back and lower abdominal can redirect ejaculate toward the bladder instead of the outside world, causing reduced semen volume.
So, semen volume is more reflective of a man’s biology than his manhood. This means if you want to increase it, spend time thinking about how to stay healthy: eat well, sleep well, maintain a lean body weight, and eat a balanced diet. Exercise regularly and reduce your stress. These are the forces that matter most for sex and semen.