When a man ejaculates, the semen he expels is not made up of just sperm. Seminal fluid is also part of the ejaculatory fluid. In order for sperm to be able to fertilize an egg, it is necessary for seminal fluid to be of the correct consistency as well as for sperm to have maximum motility and ideal morphology. If any of these factors are revealed to be less than perfect in a semen analysis, male fertility may be compromised.
Seminal Fluid Components
Seminal fluid is comprised of secretions produced by the prostate gland, Cowper’s gland and the seminal vesicles. All three combine to produce various types of alkaline fluids. Fluid from the prostate gland account for about 30% of seminal fluid. Because of its alkaline makeup, this fluid helps to neutralize the acids naturally found in the urethra and the vagina. This prevents the sperm from being killed off on contact.
The seminal vesicles produce about 60% of the seminal fluids. Also an alkaline fluid, these secretions contain fructose, a type of sugar, which give sperm energy, thereby allowing them to move faster and aid them in their swim up through the uterus. The Cowper’s gland along with fluid from the testes contribute the remaining fluid to the semen.
Problems with Fluids
During a semen analysis, a variety of problems may be found with a man’s seminal fluid. After ejaculation, male semen should liquefy within 30 seconds. If it does not, then this can indicate an infection in the seminal vesicles and prostate.
Seminal fluid that is found to be too thick can make it tricky for sperm to swim through, thereby hindering conception. Thick seminal fluids can also suggest the presence of an infection in the seminal vesicles and prostate. In order to treat these two problems, semen can be processed so that live sperm is separated from the seminal fluid. This sperm can then be used in IUI.
Other problems with seminal fluids that may become apparent with a semen analysis include an absence of fructose in the semen and the wrong pH balance. If the semen collection is lacking in fructose, then a block in the ejaculatory duct is the likely problem, which can usually be treated through surgery. Seminal fluid that does not have an alkaline pH, a problem often associated with a low ejaculatory volume, usually indicates a problem with the seminal vesicle’s functionality.
Seminal fluid analysis is an important part of the semen analysis. Identifying problems with the seminal fluid can help narrow down your reasons for infertility and set you on the right path for fertility treatment.