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What Factors Affect Semen Viscosity?

Autumn Rivers
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Healthy semen is typically supposed to liquefy less than an hour after ejaculation, which means semen that fails to do so is likely too thick to easily flow toward the cervix. This can make it difficult to conceive a child with a partner, but learning the typical causes of unfavorable semen viscosity can help most men solve the problem. For example, one of the main factors affecting semen viscosity is hydration, which means men who want thin semen need to drink plenty of water. Achieving good semen quality also requires paying attention to medications being ingested, because some drugs can affect the viscosity of semen. Additionally, infections can make semen too thick to allow sperm to move, but getting rid of the bacteria can help thin out the fluid.

Dehydration can lead to thick semen that essentially traps sperm in place, making conception unlikely. Men who notice that their semen is suddenly thicker than usual are encouraged to increase their intake of liquids, particularly water. They also should try to reduce the amount of diuretics they drink, including coffee, alcohol and soda, because these dehydrate the body over time. Sufficient hydration usually requires from six to eight glasses of water each day, though more is often necessary for men who exercise or work outside in warm weather. It usually takes a few days of staying sufficiently hydrated to see an improvement in semen viscosity.

Some medications can make semen thicker than usual, so men who notice a change in semen quality are advised to consider the drugs they are taking. While some drugs can make the semen thicker and should be avoided if boosting fertility is the goal, others have the opposite effect and may prove beneficial to the effort. For example, vitamin E, guaifenesin and N-acetyl-cysteine are all supplements known for making semen thinner. There are even some pills available that combine several nutrients to improve semen viscosity. While these drugs can usually be purchased over the counter, men are advised to ask their doctor before taking them for this purpose.

Another factor of semen viscosity is the presence of infection, because bacteria in the prostate gland or seminal vesicles can lead to unhealthy semen. Men who notice that their semen is thicker than usual and that there also is swelling or discomfort should let their doctor know. In many cases, antibiotics can get rid of the infection, allowing semen viscosity to return to normal so conception is possible.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for The Health Board, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By anon993611 — On Nov 28, 2015

Hilarious. I must have found four or five websites just on the first page that made it seem like this is an ailment that spells trouble for fertility. I have thick semen. Three consecutive doses of guaifenesin and 12 hours later, and it becomes like water.

By Markii — On Dec 09, 2013

I had a semen analysis test last week and the finding was normal, as explained by the doctor. But there were portions in the report which I need clarity on which said "incomplete viscosity after an hour". What does this mean?

By anon347679 — On Sep 09, 2013

Can I reduce my sperm's viscosity?

By JessiC — On Aug 15, 2011

My honey bunny and I had a very difficult time conceiving our first child. We tried for over three years before I became pregnant; and that was only after a lot of prayer and fertility medication for me.

However, one of the first things that the fertility specialists checked was my husband’s sperm. It’s an easy test to see if all of the little swimmers are in line than to run tons of tests on a woman.

So, they checked him out first to make sure that he wasn’t the problem before they started racking up the considerable cost of checking me out.

Although his sperm were healthy and everything was fine, they did tell us that he was at a fine line. He needed to drink plenty of hydrating fluids to keep those boys up to par, and he was at a crossing point.

In other words, sitting back and chugalugging two or three beers in the evening was not hydrating; that would actually dehydrate him. They suggested lots and lots of water.

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for The Health Board, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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