Semen is not typically impacted by water in the short term, which is to say that sperm will generally survive, at least at first. A lot depends on temperature as well as the amount of water present. In most men semen is itself made up primarily of water. Adding more will cause the mixture to become diluted, though depending on the specifics of the encounter the semen might actually gum up or become clumped at first if the water washes away some of the proteins responsible for keeping the mixture fluid. Extended water exposure may also lead to sperm breakdown over time. Sperm already have short lifespans, though. Sometimes warm water will actually prolong their life, but cold pools and puddles often have the opposite effect.
The semen of humans and most animals is made up primarily of water — up to 90% by some estimates. From this perspective, nothing unusual happens to semen in water, since in most cases it is already basically there. Human semen is typically a combination of water, sperm, and proteins, though, and one of the main impacts of added water is an upset of this balance.
Sperm generally thrive best in water that is approximately body temperature, or 98.6°F (37°C). They can survive in water that is slightly warmer or slightly colder, but not always. In these cases, though, it’s the temperature more than the water that’s killing them off.
Some men also find that their semen tends to coagulate or become almost gelatinous in the water, particularly in the shower. This is usually due to the way the water is hitting the ejaculate and the response of certain proteins. Two of the most important proteins present control coagulating and de-coagulating, often as an evolutionary protection mechanism. It isn’t true for everyone, but in many cases the de-coagulating protein will wash away first, leaving a gum-like mass behind. Over time this, too, will dissolve and wash away, but it can be unsettling to see at first.
Consequences of Mixing
In nearly all cases water will slowly mix and combine with any fluids added to it, and semen is not usually any sort of exception. Semen tends to be thicker than water, so this may take several minutes or even longer to occur. A small amount of semen may be seen floating on the top of water for quite some time after ejaculation, or it may sink. The ability of semen to float may be related to the diet and lifestyle of the man since eating certain foods or engaging in certain activities may impact semen's consistency.
It should be obvious that watery semen will dilute with water more quickly than will thicker semen. Thicker semen is more likely to appear white and float above the surface, while clear, thinner, semen is most likely to sink. The temperature of the water may also make a difference here, as well.
Pregnancy and Disease Concerns
Some women may become worried about pregnancy should they encounter semen in water, particularly during sexual activities performed in a bathtub or hot tub. This is not typically a concern, but if continued sexual activities are engaged in, the risk may be higher. If pregnancy is a concern, then protection should be used even when engaging in foreplay in the tub, pool, or hot tub. Although sperm won't live very long in cold water, they may survive for up to a few hours in hot or warm water since they thrive in wet and warm environments. It isn’t usually easy to become impregnanted simply by being in close proximity to semen, but a woman who is already naked and aroused may run a greater risk.
Some communicable disease-related concerns over semen in water are also common. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a major health concern, and if infected semen comes in contact with an open wound, the disease may be spread. This is generally not a problem in places like swimming pools and hot tubs if the proper chemicals are used in the water for cleaning and disinfecting. Other areas may not be as safe, although the chances of transmission from waterborne semen are still relatively small.
What Environmental Factors Impact Semen Lifespan in Water?
Several environmental factors can impact the lifespan of semen in water. The most important factor is temperature. As mentioned earlier, sperm generally thrives in body temperature water.
Colder temperatures tend to minimize how long sperm survives in water. Herbicides are one major overlooked environmental factor that may reduce how long sperm survives in water. Herbicides behave identically to estrogens.
While both men and women have estrogen, it serves different purposes for each gender. Estrogen is needed in both for the body to function normally. Testosterone gets converted to estradiol in men to produce sperm, regulate sex drive, and enhance erections and testicular function. The key here is to maintain healthy levels.
Healthy estradiol levels range from 10 to 50 picograms per milliliter. High levels of estrogen cause infertility, decreased mood, and even erectile dysfunction. Therefore, it's safe to say that herbicides in the water will negatively impact how long sperm survives in water.
What Lifestyle Habits Impact Semen Lifespan in Water?
The length of time semen lives in water also depends on the overall health of each individual male. For example, habits such as cigarette smoking, obesity, consumption of alcohol, and even excess caffeine intake can decrease semen quality and quantity.
Another commonly overlooked lifestyle factor that gets looked over is stress. A lack of sleep, mental and emotional trauma, and not practicing self-care can also decrease overall semen health. The habits listed above increase stress as well.
Stress can occur with or without other factors, making it necessary to manage. If these habits aren't addressed or managed, they can be passed down through generations. At the same time, making healthy lifestyle adjustments can enhance semen quality and lengthen the time semen can survive in water.
Keep in mind that how semen reacts to water does not entirely determine its overall health or the man’s overall health because of outside unknown environmental factors in play.
What Proteins Cause Semen To Form Gel?
Semengelins I and II are the major proteins that create the jelly consistency of semen. Both semengelins come together to make the liquid jelly that forms during ejaculation. It takes between five and 20 minutes for the liquid to form.
Semengelins contain an 80 percent amino acid profile. Therefore, scientists believe these proteins play a significant role in fertilizing the egg in the creation of an active pregnancy.
The unique thing about semengelins is that these proteins serve multiple purposes in overall male health. They are also found in the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and the trachea. Semengelins also play a pivotal role in regulating how enzymes get processed in the prostate.
Can You Identify the Concentration, Motility, and Morphology of Sperm if it Floats in Water?
Sperm motility, on the other hand, refers to the number of sperm that are mobile. In a normal ejaculation, a little over 40 percent of sperm move forward in a straight line.
The morphology of sperm looks at the appearance of the sperm. What is the size and shape of the cells? Normal sperm has an oval head with a long tail. Abnormal sperm have crooked or even multiple tails.
In other cases, the head is abnormally large or not perfectly round. These defects can impact fertility. They are also normal. Studies show that roughly 10 percent of semen looks normal through a microscope.
The only thing one can tell by looking at sperm in water is if it floats or how much gelly it contains. One will also notice the color of the sperm, whether it be clear or white. Therefore, one cannot fully identify sperm concentration, motility, or morphology based on whether or not it floats in water. Nor can one tell if the sperm will lead to pregnancy or not.
The best way to avoid unintended pregnancy is to use protection. If you are concerned about the quality of your sperm, contact your physician to schedule a semen analysis. It will provide volume, pH, sperm count, motility, and morphology.