What Factors Affect Semen Speed?

Erin J. Hill

Technically, there are no factors which affect semen speed, since semen is the fluid in which sperm are found. It is comprised of fructose and other substances, and it provides a protective barrier for sperm so they can survive the acidic environment of the vagina. The speed of sperm, however, can be affected by unhealthy lifestyle choices or genetic factors. Many people use the terms “semen” and “sperm” interchangeably, although they are actually two separate entities.

Semen is made up of fructose -- the same type of sugar found in most fruits -- as well as other substances.
Semen is made up of fructose -- the same type of sugar found in most fruits -- as well as other substances.

When asking about semen speed, most males want to know if there is anything they could be doing to affect their sperm motility. There are various behaviors males may partake in that can negatively impact the speed and overall health of their sperm cells. Smoking tobacco, for instance, may be associated with abnormal sperm with low motility. Deficiencies in certain vitamins may also affect sperm's speed.

Unprocessed beef contains large quantities of vitamin B12, which is one of the best vitamins for semen.
Unprocessed beef contains large quantities of vitamin B12, which is one of the best vitamins for semen.

Certain substances have been tested to determine if they affect “semen speed.” Caffeine, for instance, has been tested and found to increase the speed of male sperm for a temporary amount of time. The exact amount needed may be different for every man. It is not recommended that men drink an unusual amount of caffeine in an effort to improve fertility, as this can have negative affects on health.

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Semen must be able to survive the acidic environment of the vagina.
Semen must be able to survive the acidic environment of the vagina.

If a patient asks a doctor to check their semen speed, they are typically referring to sperm motility. Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle by avoiding drugs, and maintaining a healthy weight, there are other factors which may come into play when it comes to male fertility. Certain genetic defects or hormonal conditions may also affect the speed and health of sperm, and are generally checked during an exam.

A man who suspects that he may have misshapen sperm may only feel comfortable discussing the issue with a male doctor.
A man who suspects that he may have misshapen sperm may only feel comfortable discussing the issue with a male doctor.

The exam used to test for sperm motility usually involves having a man ejaculate into a sterile cup. This is accomplished through masturbation which is performed in a fertility clinic. Once the semen has been collected, it is examined under a microscope. The sperm are then visible and a doctor can see if there are misshapen, slow-moving, or dead sperm present.

Semen motility is the speed and method at which sperm travel through the female reproductive tract to the egg cell.
Semen motility is the speed and method at which sperm travel through the female reproductive tract to the egg cell.

Many defects can be corrected through surgery or hormonal replacement therapies. Sperm samples may be taken in intervals to test for overall health. The speed of the sperm is not as important as health overall, but since they can only live for a few days once entering the female body, it is important that they move well enough to reach and fertilize an egg.

Sperm samples may be taken in intervals to test for overall health.
Sperm samples may be taken in intervals to test for overall health.
Semen is produced in the testes, which are contained in the scrotum.
Semen is produced in the testes, which are contained in the scrotum.
Caffeine has been found to increase the speed of male sperm for a short amount of time, but it is not recommended that men drink an unusual amount in an effort to improve fertility.
Caffeine has been found to increase the speed of male sperm for a short amount of time, but it is not recommended that men drink an unusual amount in an effort to improve fertility.

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Discussion Comments

candyquilt

@ysmina-- I don't have an answer for that. Speed of ejaculation has to do with how much semen is stored. If there hasn't been ejaculation for a while, the speed will be higher.

I have heard a theory that the higher the speed of ejaculation, the easier it will be for sperm to reach the egg, but I'm not sure if that's true. I do believe that frequent intercourse and masturbation slows down sperm however.

It's probably more important to lead a healthy lifestyle, eat well, not smoke, limit alcohol and exercise.

ysmina

Does the speed of ejaculation have any affect on semen speed?

fBoyle

Obviously, healthy sperm will be faster than unhealthy sperm. But for the most part, whether sperm reaches the egg has more to do with the environmental factors of the woman's body.

I watched a video about fertilization in class and it showed how difficult it is for sperm to reach the egg. Most sperm die in the process. They either get destroyed by the acidic environment or get caught up in cell flagella. These are the appendages on top of cells and sperm literally get caught in them.

So you can have healthy sperm and still have difficulty fertilizing an egg. It's luck.

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