Watery semen: when is it cause for concern?

When to relax and when to worry about the consistency and colour of your ejaculate.

Why is your semen watery?
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Everyone is different, and that goes for semen too; how much, how thick, how smelly… every aspect is slightly different depending on the person. But if you’re worried that your semen has changed consistency or just isn't as thick as you'd expect, how do you find out whether that’s normal too?

Given that watery semen is probably not something you would discuss with your mates down the pub, we speak to Dr Kam Mann, men’s health physician at The Mann Clinic, about the optimum semen consistency and when you should be concerned:

Is your semen normal?

To be clear, we are talking here about semen, not sperm: Semen is the fluid released from the penis during ejaculation associated with sexual activity. It is what carries sperm along with other fluids from the prostate gland and other organs called the seminal vesicles.

Semen is normally thick fluid and white in colour but it can vary in consistency and colour from person to person.

Semen is normally thick fluid and white in colour but it can vary in consistency and colour from person to person.



Why is your semen watery?

The first thing to note if you’re worried about watery semen is that it is not necessarily a reason to worry, as Mann tells us: ‘Watery semen is often normal for some men and should not be a cause for concern. However, some health conditions can also change the consistency to cause a watery semen.’

Health conditions that may lead to watery semen include the following:

• Low sperm count

Also known as oligospermia, low sperm count may cause difficulties conceiving and male infertility but certainly not always. Oligospermia may be caused by the following:

  • A swelling of the testicular veins (varicoele)
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Tumours of the testicles
  • Male hormone imbalances (testicular deficiency and thyroid imbalance)
  • Drugs side effects and abuse
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Environmental toxins
  • Retrograde ejaculation due to a malfunctioning bladder sphincter
  • Blocked tubes and anti-sperm antibodies in the immune system

    • Frequent ejaculation

    If masturbating or engaging in sexual activity multiple times per day the body does not have enough time to ‘recover’ and produce high volume, thick semen.

    • Zinc deficiency

    Zinc helps with multiple body functions including immunity, wound healing and fertility.

    • Pre-ejaculation fluid

    This usually watery with a low sperm count and may be mistaken for semen from full, complete ejaculation.



    When to worry about watery semen

    Mann warns that watery semen coupled with discolouration can be an indicator of something more serious. Note that discolouration alone is also a potential flag for an underlying health condition.

    If you have any concerns about your semen consistency and spot any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your GP:

    • Pink/Red/brown semen

    This may indicate inflammation or bleeding from the prostate gland or seminal vesicles caused by infection or less commonly an underlying cancer.

    • Yellow semen

    Yellow semen may indicate small amounts of urine (climacturia).

    • Yellow/green semen

    This could be caused by an infection of the prostate or seminal vesicles or urethra.



    Watery semen treatment

    It might be reassuring to hear that watery semen caused by a low sperm count doesn’t necessarily require treatment. Mann says, ‘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.’

    Watery semen caused by a low sperm count doesn’t necessarily require treatment.

    Other causes are easily treated, ‘If a bacterial infection is found it can be treated with antibiotics. If there is a hormonal imbalance these can be treated with lifestyle advice and hormone therapy. Varicoeles (swelling of testicular veins) can usually be treated with either embolization or surgery,’ explains Mann.



    Watery semen lifestyle tips

    As we have mentioned, a thin consistency in your semen is not necessarily immediate cause for concern, but there are important lifestyle changes to consider which may help watery semen and a boost low sperm count.

    Mann’s top lifestyle changes include the following:

    ✔️ Stop smoking.

    ✔️ Reduce alcohol consumption.

    ✔️ Take regular exercise and eat healthy foods.

    ✔️ Manage stress and sleep hygiene.

    ✔️ Boost your zinc levels if needed from dietary sources, such as oysters, red meat, shellfish, nuts and seeds, beans and dairy products including yogurt, or consider supplements.

    ✔️ Consider reducing sexual activity to ejaculate less frequently.



    When watery semen = GP appointment

    Mann stresses that watery semen is usually a common and temporary problem, ‘but if persistent or if the semen is discoloured or you and your partner are struggling to conceive you should see a doctor for further help.

    ‘A consultation needs to be performed including a full medical history, lifestyle assessment, physical examination, testing of the blood and a semen analysis. Other investigations may be needed.’

    So there you have it. If your semen’s not as thick as you think it should be, try not to stress, but do think about any other factors that could be affecting it and if you’re at all concerned, a trip to the GP is always the right course of action.



    Last updated: 07-01-2020

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