January 9, 2020

What Does Watery Semen Mean?

Does your semen seem more watery than usual? Here’s what might be causing that — and what your treatment options are.
Written by
Jamie LeClaire
Published on
January 9, 2020
Updated on
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Semen or penis ejaculate is typically a milky, white, thick fluid. Semen color, viscosity, and consistency can vary though, and be affected by lifestyle factors, nutritional deficiencies, and low sperm count. If you are experiencing watery or otherwise abnormal ejaculate, we’re here to answer your questions. We’ll also address any possible impact on fertility.

Possible causes of watery semen 

1. Frequent ejaculation

The answer could be as simple as frequent ejaculation. If you masturbate or have sex to orgasm with ejaculation several times per day, it’s totally common (and typical) for ejaculate to become thinner and more watery.

A 2016 study found that over a period of 14 days of daily ejaculation, semen volume and sperm concentration significantly decreased as the days progressed. 

2. Low sperm count

Low sperm count (oligospermia) can commonly cause semen to have a  watery consistency. Low sperm count, which is categorized as having less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen (ejaculate), may have an impact on the ability to successfully fertilize an egg, It may be a sign of an underlying health concern. Causes of low sperm count include:

  • Infections: Various sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea or HIV, can impede healthy sperm production or cause scarring that could block the passage of sperm. Infections that cause inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis) or testicles (orchitis), can also impact sperm count. 
  • Varicocele: This is a swelling of the veins that drain the testicle. This is a common, treatable, cause of infertility.
  • Hormone imbalances: Any changes in the hormones or hormone production in the testes, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland may contribute to a change in sperm count.
  • Tumors: Both benign and malignant tumors can affect sperm count and semen volume.
  • Genetic causes: Abnormalities can be hereditary or developed and can affect sperm count. 

3. Zinc-deficiency 

Another common explanation for low sperm count or lower sperm volume is a deficiency in the essential mineral, Zinc. Zinc is responsible for attacking sperm antibodies, which mistake sperm for foreign objects to the body. For those with low zinc, zinc and zinc sulfate supplements are easily accessible. 

4. Retrograde ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation occurs when semen enters the bladder during orgasm instead of out of the tip of the penis. This condition can cause a low volume of ejaculate that appears thin or watery. 

Health conditions such as diabetes, spinal injuries, and surgery of the bladder, urethra, or prostate can cause retrograde ejaculation. It is also possible that some blood-pressure medications, known as alpha-blockers, may prompt issues with ejaculate. 

Seeking treatment for watery semen

If semen is repeatedly a watery consistency or discolored, you may want to see a healthcare provider like a primary care provider or urologist. 

A semen analysis, also referred to as a seminogram, can be performed to assess various aspects of the semen such as:

  • Volume of ejaculate
  • Acidity of semen
  • Sperm count
  • Shape and size of sperm
  • Sperm movement and motility
  • Chemical make-up
  • Liquefaction time 
  • Fructose levels

This information, as well as your lifestyle and medical history, can help your healthcare provider determine the root of the issue and advise you on next steps.

What treatment looks like for watery semen

If watery semen is attributed to low sperm count, treatment may not be necessary. Low sperm count doesn’t automatically make someone unable to conceive — if you and your partner are trying to conceive, you just may need to be more intentional in your attempts and it might be a good idea to consult a fertility specialist for next steps.

If your doctor attributes the low sperm count or watery semen to lifestyle or diet, they will likely advise you to:

  • Exercise regularly if possible
  • Quit or reduce your nicotine intake
  • Adjust your diet
  • Reduce alcohol consumption

Treatment for infections will likely involve antibiotic or antiviral therapy. If a varicocele is detected, a small surgery is the method of treatment. If any hormone imbalances are detected, it will be treated using hormone therapy/treatment.

To wrap things up, a brief change in the consistency of semen is common and usually nothing to be concerned about. If the issue persists, you should consult with your healthcare provider.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Jamie J. LeClaire (they/them) is a sexuality educator, freelance writer, and consultant. Their work focuses on the intersections of pleasure-positive sexual health, queer & transgender/gender-nonconforming identity, body politics, and social justice. You can find more of their work at their website, and follow them on Instagram & Twitter.

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