Can You Increase Semen Volume in Your Ejaculate if You're Trying to Conceive?
Trying to conceive? You might want to check your semen volume.
Semen volume is the total amount of fluid ejaculated from the penis, according to Legacy, a fertility and family planning company based in Boston. When a man's reproductive organs don't produce enough semen—the fluid that carries sperm to fertilize a female egg—it can disrupt the fertility process.
An increased semen volume in a man's ejaculate---the size and amount of the sperm in his load---is generally associated with increased chances of reproduction.
"Normal semen volume varies from 1.5 to 5 milliliters. This amount can vary from day to day depending on your hydration," said Justin Houman, M.D., a reproductive urologist and men's health specialist at Tower Urology in Los Angeles and the medical director for Bastion Health, an app-based telehealth platform for men.
But semen volume can be impacted by other factors, such as lifestyle choices, prostate health and age. Here's how to keep your semen levels high and healthy or how to increase the volume.
Why is high semen volume important for fertility?
"While semen volume doesn't necessarily equate to infertility, it may be a potential sign of lower sperm volume and quality," said Jim Staheli, D.O., a family doctor in Atlanta and the medical director for Broad Health/Hone Health, a men's health provider.
Semen refers to the fluid released during ejaculation that contains seminal fluid and prostatic secretions. These secretions provide the nutrients, enzymes and environment for sperm to survive and function—and hopefully, for some people, lead to conception.
"The other primary role of the semen is to transport the sperm through the female reproductive tract and maintain a basic pH to counteract the acidic environment of the vagina. When looking at a semen analysis, total semen volume is one of the parameters that may indicate an abnormality," said Alex Robles, M.D., a fertility specialist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
What causes low semen volume?
Physicians can point to a few factors that may cause low semen volume and affect male fertility:
Age can cause low semen volume
"As we age, semen volume decreases as the semen production slowly decreases," Houman said. "This is just a natural part of aging."
Prostate health can cause low semen volume
The prostate gland is responsible for producing a fluid that mixes with sperm and fluid from the seminal vesicles to produce seminal fluid. Without a healthy prostate, ejaculate volume can be low or nonexistent.
Lifestyle choices can cause low semen volume
Poor lifestyle choices can cause male infertility, according to a study published in 2017 in the Arab Journal of Urology.
"There are a wide variety of risk factors that could potentially influence sperm [and semen] quality," the study's authors wrote.
Lifestyle factors the researchers listed include:
- Cigarette smoking
- Alcohol intake
- Use of illicit drugs
- Psychological stress
- Caffeine intake
How to increase semen volume in your ejaculate
Currently, there are no well-studied supplements shown to absolutely increase semen production. However, there are some accepted techniques to increase your ejaculate:
Refrain from ejaculating
"If you hold off on ejaculating for a few days, chances are your volume of semen will increase," Houman explained. "One study has highlighted this by noting that for the first few days after ejaculation, semen volume increases by about 10 percent to 15 percent per day that you are not ejaculating."
However, the benefit levels off after two weeks to one month, according to a 2020 retrospective analysis from the journal Therapeutic Advances in Reproductive Health.
Stay away from heat
"In addition to diet and maintaining a normal BMI [body mass index], the best way to keep semen volume high is to avoid elevated temperatures in the scrotal area," Robles said. "This means avoiding sitting in hot tubs [and] saunas, and excessive bike riding."
Selenium and semen volume
Selenium is a trace mineral found naturally in foods and supplements. Acting as an antioxidant, it can help sperm cells grow to a normal size and shape (morphology). It may also contribute to sperm motility (movement).
"A few studies have shown that a deficiency in selenium may lead to sperm abnormalities, particularly in patients with abnormal semen analysis. The data is not definitive," Robles said. "Regardless, selenium supplementation is a low-risk intervention that is unlikely to have any negative consequences."
Zinc and semen volume
Folic acid and zinc sulfate treatment helped subfertile men—men with a low sperm count—increase their sperm count by 74 percent in a 2002 clinical trial published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Zinc can be found naturally in foods and supplements.
Editor's note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Our medical experts advise that you consult with your primary healthcare provider before you begin using a supplement. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.