Semen, or seminal fluid, is a natural fluid produced by the male reproductive system. It includes secretions from organs such as the testicles, the prostate gland, and the seminal vesicles. Seminal fluid, which is heavily concentrated with protein and sugars, may be found in a jelly-like or liquefied state. The primary function of this fluid is to transport sperm to the female reproductive system. It also contains nutrients that contribute to healthy sperm.
It is common for individuals to believe that sperm and semen are the same. Actually, semen is the fluid that passes through the urethra and transports sperm, which are male reproductive cells. Seminal fluid's primary purpose is to help the male reproductive cells, or sperm, to successfully navigate their way through the female reproductive system to fertilize a woman's eggs.
The fluid is generally described as being white. It may also have a tinge of gray or yellow and still be considered normal. If it appears pink or red, that is usually an indication that the fluid is tainted with blood.
In addition to sperm, which develop in the testicles, there are other organs whose secretions contribute to the composition of semen. One example is the seminal vesicles, which are a pair of small structures that are located behind the bladder. These glands produce secretions that can account for more than half of semen's makeup. These secretions are heavily laden with the sugar fructose, which promotes healthy sperm cells. These secretions are also the component that is needed to give sperm its jelly-like consistency.
Another large portion of semen is composed of secretions from the prostate gland. These help to make the seminal fluid effective in protecting the sperm cells against the acidic conditions of the female reproductive system. One of the notable chemicals that the prostate gland contributes to seminal fluid is an enzyme known as prostate specific antigen (PSA).
After a man ejaculates, the semen converts to a jelly-like state. It is believed that this happens because such a consistency allows it to more effectively adhere to a woman's womb. The fluid does not remain in this state, however. It will eventually return to a liquefied state. PSA is credited for causing this melting action. The amount of time that will elapse before it occurs can vary from several minutes to well over half an hour.
The Cowper's gland is another contributor to the makeup of semen. Secretions from this gland are found in the form of a clear natural lubricant. Sometimes this lubricant may be released from the penis before ejaculation occurs.
The amount of seminal fluid that a man releases can be affected by the frequency of his ejaculations. If a man frequently ejaculates or has recently done so, he may produce a below average amount of seminal fluid. On the contrary, if he has gone for an extended period without ejaculation, he may produce an above average amount of fluid.