Semen is the fluid released through the male urethra during ejaculation. It carries sperm and fluids from the prostate gland and other male reproductive organs. Normally, semen is a thick, whitish liquid. However, several conditions can change the color and consistency of semen.
Watery semen can be a sign of low sperm count, indicating possible fertility problems. Ejaculating thin, clear semen may also be a temporary condition with no serious health concerns.
Read on to learn more about watery semen.
There are several possible causes for watery semen. Most are treatable or preventable.
1. Low semen count
One of the most common causes of watery semen is low sperm count. This is also known as oligospermia. If you have low sperm count, it means your semen contains fewer sperm than normal. A sperm count of fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen is considered below normal.
Some causes of oligospermia include:
- Varicocele. A varicocele is a swelling of veins from the testicles in the scrotum. It’s a major, but treatable, cause of male infertility.
- Infection. Examples include a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or another kind of infection that causes inflammation of a reproductive organ, such as epididymitis.
- Tumors. Malignant and benign tumors in the testicles may affect sperm production.
- Hormone imbalances. Hormones produced in the testicles, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus are all necessary to produce healthy sperm counts. Changes in any of these hormones could affect sperm production.
Other potential causes of a low sperm count include:
- ejaculation problems, such as retrograde ejaculation
- anti-sperm antibodies in your immune system
- injuries or other problems with the tubes that carry sperm
2. Frequent ejaculation
Frequent ejaculation may also lead to the production of watery semen. If you masturbate several times a day, the quality of semen after the first ejaculation is likely to become thin and watery. Your body may require at least a few hours to produce a normal, healthy amount of semen.
3. Zinc deficiency
Another possible cause of watery semen is a zinc deficiency. Research has shown that men who have adequate levels of zinc or men who are deficient in zinc and take zinc sulfate supplements can better fight off the effects of anti-sperm antibodies. These antibodies are produced by the immune system, which mistakenly responds to sperm as a foreign body.
If you have semen that appears watery, it’s important to note if some color is present or if it’s clear. Very clear semen may actually be pre-ejaculation fluid that’s released during foreplay. It typically contains few sperm.
What does it mean to have discolored semen?
If you notice that your semen is discolored, the color may indicate a health problem.
Pink or reddish brown could mean your prostate is inflamed or bleeding, or there could be bleeding or inflammation in the seminal vesicle(s). The seminal vesicles are a pair of glands that help produce a significant liquid part of semen. These are usually treatable conditions.
Yellow semen could indicate small amounts of urine or unusually high levels of white blood cells in your semen.
Yellowish-green semen could mean you have a prostate infection.
If you notice that your semen is consistently watery or discolored, tell your primary care doctor or see a urologist. If you and your partner have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive, consult a fertility specialist.
One of the first tests that will be done is a semen analysis. This is used to check the health of your sperm and semen. The test will check for, among other things:
- volume of semen from an ejaculation
- liquefaction time, which is the amount of time needed for semen to change from a thick, gel-like fluid to a waterier liquid consistency
- sperm count
- sperm motility, the ability of sperm movement
- sperm morphology, or the size and shape of the sperm
Your doctor will also ask questions about your medical history and perform a physical exam. You’ll also be asked some lifestyle questions as well, such as about tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption.
Other tests may be necessary if your doctor suspects there are issues with your hormone levels or the physical health of your testicles and neighboring reproductive organs.
What are the treatment options?
Watery semen caused by a low sperm count doesn’t necessarily require treatment. Having a low sperm count doesn’t automatically mean you can’t conceive. It may take additional attempts, or you may have something like an infection that has temporarily caused the low sperm count.
Treatment for infection may include antibiotic therapy. Hormone treatments may be advised if a hormone imbalance is determined to be the cause of your low sperm count. If a varicocele is discovered, surgery can usually treat it safely.
In some cases, a change in lifestyle may help boost your sperm count and improve the quality of your semen. Positive changes include:
- Quit smoking cigarettes.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption.
- Exercise regularly.
Your doctor may also advise you to abstain from sexual intercourse for a period of time so you ejaculate less frequently. Doing this can help see if it changes the consistency of your semen.
In many instances, changes to the consistency of your semen are temporary and treatable. If the cause for watery semen is low sperm count and you’re trying to conceive, there are many treatments available. Speak with a fertility specialist about the best options for you.
Before you make any major decisions, talk with your doctor and go through the testing needed to make a proper diagnosis.