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What Is Considered Normal Semen?

By A. Gamm
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Many men worry about the health of their sperm, particularly if they are trying to conceive. The factors that determine if a man’s semen is normal include the color, consistency, smell, volume, sperm concentration and percentage of abnormalities. Normal semen should have a cloudy, thick consistency that thins and clears within half an hour, and may even have a slight chlorine smell. At least 50% of the sperm should have normal motility and morphology.

Normal semen is usually a white or grey at first. It will typically thicken, then liquefy and turn clear. This change usually happens within half an hour. If the semen remains thick, there may be a problem with dehydration, but this problem normally clears on its own. If it does not return to normal after a few weeks, a more serious problem may be at hand. Furthermore, semen that is tinted red or yellow is normal, but if the discoloration is pronounced and followed by a foul smell, there may be an infection, or on rare occasions, cancer.

The amount ejaculated should be between 1.5 ml to 6ml with anywhere between 20 million to 150 million sperm. A consistently low volume of semen may indicate other health problems, such as diabetes, prostate infection or something blocking the seminal vessel. Typically, older men over 40 will have semen volumes on the lower end of the scale.

Motility and morphology are particularly important factors for determining normal semen for fertility. The percentages that scientists typically look for vary, but on average, at least a total of 50% of the sperm should have both normal motility and morphology. It is not unusual, however, for a man to have normal semen, but have just over 30% of the sperm with normal morphology. The best way to determine if a man falls within this range is through semen analysis.

If a man suspects that he may have abnormal semen, he may wish to undergo a semen analysis. Most labs request that a man abstain from ejaculation for anywhere between two and five days, and for the most accurate results the semen is analyzed within one or two hours. On some occasions, a lab may even request that the test be repeated one or two additional times within a three month period. Usually, they are only testing for normal motility and morphology, and while this is a major factor determining normal semen, it is not always indicative of fertility.

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.
Discussion Comments
By SeanH — On Nov 19, 2015

I've read all over the place that vitamins and nutrients are key to a healthy penis. This is why I use a penis health creme every day. The creme delivers Vitamins A, B5, C, D and E directly into my penis for maximum benefit and effectiveness. I have seen and felt many improvements down there already. You guys should check these cremes out.

By anon939763 — On Mar 15, 2014

Can the size of testicles affect the production of healthy sperm? If yes, what measures should be taken to improve it?

By irontoenail — On Jan 10, 2013

@umbra21 - Well, people should use birth control anyway. I mean, just because you have a low sperm count doesn't mean that you're infertile. And when it comes down to it, that infertility isn't really doing us any favors when it comes to population either.

Most of the time population growth in developed countries slows right down once the population reaches a certain level of wealth anyway.

In fact, in some countries in Europe and in Japan, they are trying to encourage people to start having children, since their populations are in decline.

So, low fertility rates there are sad, really, since it means a couple has to resort to other measures to have children and might not be able to have them at all, when they want them.

By umbra21 — On Jan 09, 2013

@Ana1234 - Well, I've heard pollution can be a factor, but I've also heard that it might have something to do with electronic devices. Heat can kill sperm and a lot of people sit with their laptops on their knees all the time, for example.

I think the truth is that they just aren't sure what's lowering the sperm counts.

But, overall is it really a bad thing? I mean, population control is a pretty good thing I think and not impregnating someone every time you have sex is probably a good thing for most guys.

By Ana1234 — On Jan 09, 2013

I actually saw a really interesting documentary the other day where they were following some guys who want to be fathers and seeing whether they could boost their sperm counts with some lifestyle changes.

A couple of them were just within normal ranges, but most of them were fairly below in terms of sperm mobility and so forth. They had them do things like start eating better and stop smoking. The guys who stopped smoking seemed to improve the most, actually, and I wonder if smoking or pollution accounts for why sperm counts are supposed to be falling in a lot of places.

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