Healthy Sperm: Signs, What It Looks Like, And More

Why is my semen clear? Why is it thick? Is that normal?

Semen is a common concern among young and adult males. 

Even if they are not immediately worried about fertility problems, they want to know if they have an issue. 

Sperm thickness, sperm volume, and sperm count are all variables that influence sperm quality. 

Some are visible in plain sight, but most are not.

In this article, we will talk about the signs of healthy sperm. 

We will go through the most important sperm parameters and what you can tell about sperm by looking at a semen sample. 

After considering these issues, you will also read how to make sperm stronger for pregnancy.

What is healthy sperm?

First, semen is the whitish liquid secreted by the sexual glands. It contains sperm, which is the male reproductive cell. That’s the difference between semen and sperm, but they are both important parts of the reproductive system. 

Semen volume and characteristics protect spermatozoa in their way to the egg. Healthy sperm cells are highly mobile and reach the egg faster.

So, healthy sperm should have a combination of elements that come from the testes. Others come from the prostate gland or depend on the seminal vesicles. 

Together they give the ejaculate a specific color and thickness we can evaluate in plain sight. But if we are really interested in sperm health, we should put a sample under the microscope.

Why healthy sperm matters

First of all, healthy sperm is the most critical aspect of fertile men. It is ultimately what will facilitate conception. 

Male fertility depends on different semen parameters, including sperm morphology and semen volume, among others. So, if one of the reasons for intercourse is having a baby, sperm health matters a lot.

Men also feel that semen reflects their masculinity. So, even if it doesn’t hurt and they don’t want to have a baby, retrograde ejaculation causes concern. 

But even if you’re not interested in any of those factors, sperm health reflects sexual function—many parameters in semen result from a healthy balance of sex hormones. An abnormality points to a health problem you will likely want to address (1).

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Signs of healthy sperm

A semen analysis will give you plenty of signs of healthy sperm. Most of them are not visible but can be seen under the microscope. 

The lab exam will evaluate these aspects of your sperm specimen (1,2):

  • Sperm volume: It is measured by the volume of semen in a single ejaculate and its sperm count. A healthy ejaculate should have 15 million sperm cells or more per milliliter.
  • Sperm motility: This is only noticeable under the microscope. Sperm cells should move actively to reach the egg. It is considered healthy sperm when 40% or more sperms are highly motile.
  • Sperm morphology: This parameter evaluates the shape of sperm cells. They should have a long tail and a rounded head.

The above is the most important male fertility factors. Others are additional and may contribute to fertility. But they are not ultimately required for conception and vary from person to person. 

For example, the consistency can be fluid or thick. More fluid semen may contribute to sperm motility but is not an indicator of fertility.

Signs of unhealthy sperm

Sperm health can be affected by myriad problems, affecting men’s fertility rate. This can be measured objectively in lab analysis. 

Objective signs of unhealthy sperm include (1,2):

  • Reduced sperm quantity below 15 million sperm cells per milliliter. Still, remember that only one sperm cell is required to get a woman pregnant.
  • Reduced motility, when fewer than 40% of sperm cells are moving.
  • A high proportion of sperm cells with abnormalities (enlarged heads, crooked tails, double tails, double heads, and others).

These semen findings reflect sperm quality, but they are not noticeable. In the following sections, we will give you a few visible traits of healthy and unhealthy sperm and tell you how to raise sperm count.

What does healthy sperm look like?

Healthy-looking semen does not follow the same standard in all people. We all have different nutrition, levels of hydration, and reproductive system variations. Thus, semen thickness, semen volume, and other visible aspects can also vary.

These visible characteristics can be found in healthy semen (2):

  • The color is usually white or grayish, but a yellowish taint is also normal.
  • Semen texture can be fluid or thick.
  • It can have a jelly-like consistency, too, but it turns fluid in a few minutes.
  • Clumpy semen can be perfectly healthy, especially if it turns fluid after a few minutes.

Thick and clumpy semen is a common concern. If you see this trait coming and going, the sudden change can be due to dehydration or infrequent ejaculation. 

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What does unhealthy sperm look like?

We can also have a few warning signs of sperm health in plain sight. For instance (2):

  • Blood in the semen: It is called hematospermia. It is a sign of sexually transmitted infection, prostate problems, or trauma to the scrotum or urethra. A doctor should evaluate bloody semen to rule out different diseases.
  • Unhealthy sperm color: The colors that should trigger an alarm are red and green. The green color suggests inflammation of the prostate. Intense yellow in the semen can also be caused by a liver or gallbladder condition, just like jaundice.
  • Watery semen: Most people believe that clumpy and thick semen is a problem, but the opposite is true. When semen looks extremely watery, it can be because the sperm count is very low. Again, it is not something we can see in plain sight, and a sperm analysis is recommended to rule it out.

How can I check if my sperm is healthy at home?

It is possible to get a hint of sperm health, even at home, with semen in a container.

  • First, look at the sample and see if there is any trace of blood in it.
  • Notice the color and rule out the intense yellow and green colors described above.
  • Check the semen volume, which should be somewhere between 2 to 5 mL.
  • You can also use devices to check the sperm count at home. It gives you a result in a few minutes, just like a pregnancy test, and tells you if the sample contains enough sperm cells to be considered normal.

If you are concerned about fertility and want to ensure everything is all right, we recommend a consultation with your healthcare provider and getting a lab test. 

Only lab results are completely accurate and trustworthy. They are also the only way to go if you need to know sperm cell motility and morphology.

How can you improve your sperm health?

In some cases, sperm health will only improve after medical treatment. But that’s only in the case of hypogonadism, varicocele, infections, and other medical problems. 

If you have already ruled out significant issues like those, there are still things you can do at home:

Eat healthily

Healthier sperm requires good nutrients to boost testosterone production, build antioxidant enzymes, and protect your sperm cells. 

Eat whole foods and fresh foods. Ensure you’re getting the vitamins, minerals, proteins, and healthy fats you need (3).

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Moderate exercise

We can increase sperm quantity through exercise by increasing testosterone levels. It only takes weeks of increasing physical activity to see the results. As a side note, if you like bicycling, look for a prostate-friendly bicycle seat (4).

Boxer shorts

Some studies suggest that using boxer shorts is better than using briefs if you want to conceive. However, there is still no conclusive evidence in this regard. Your undergarments are up to you (5).

Be wary of alcohol and caffeine

More than 3 cups of caffeinated drinks daily and five alcohol units a week can affect your sperm health (6).

Keep scrotal temperatures chill

Your testicles are not inside the body because they need to stay chill. Warmth does no good, and bathing in warm water might not be a good idea (6).

Supplements

These methods can increase sperm count, and you can use them along with supplements. If you’re not a candidate to use steroids as medical treatment, you can still increase your sex hormones and improve your sperm cell count with supplements such as:

  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Ashwagandha

Conclusion

Some signs and characteristics of semen can help us identify healthy semen. Other traits are only evaluated in lab analysis. In this article, we have described the most important signs and visible characteristics of healthy semen.

Men usually ask if clumpy or jelly-like semen is indicative of a problem. It is usually not, and semen characteristics change depending on nutrition and hydration. The most important traits are evaluated in lab tests, including the sperm count, morphology, and motility.

Explore More

hematospermia

What Is Seminal Fluid Made of and Where Does It Come From?

Sources

  1. Dias, T. R., Cho, C. L., & Agarwal, A. (2019). Sperm assessment: Traditional approaches and their indicative value. In vitro fertilization (pp. 249-263). Springer, Cham. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-43011-9_22 
  2. Baskaran, S., Finelli, R., Agarwal, A., & Henkel, R. (2021). Diagnostic value of routine semen analysis in clinical andrology. Andrologia, 53(2), e13614. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32400107/ 
  3. Arab, A., Rafie, N., Mansourian, M., Miraghajani, M., & Hajianfar, H. (2018). Dietary patterns and semen quality: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of observational studies. Andrology, 6(1), 20-28. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29024507/ 
  4. Rosety, M. Á., Díaz, A., Rosety, J. M., Brenes-Martín, F., Bernardi, M., García, N., … & Rosety, I. (2017). Exercise improved semen quality and reproductive hormone levels in sedentary obese adults. Nutrición hospitalaria, 34(3), 608-612. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28627195/ 
  5. Mínguez-Alarcón, L., Gaskins, A. J., Chiu, Y. H., Messerlian, C., Williams, P. L., Ford, J. B., … & Chavarro, J. E. (2018). Type of underwear worn and markers of testicular function among men attending a fertility center. Human Reproduction, 33(9), 1749-1756. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30102388/ 
  6. Jurewicz, J., Radwan, M., Sobala, W., Ligocka, D., Radwan, P., Bochenek, M., & Hanke, W. (2014). Lifestyle and semen quality: role of modifiable risk factors. Systems biology in reproductive medicine, 60(1), 43-51. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24074254/ 

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