What is Sperm Viscosity and how does it affect my Fertility

Sperm analysis results reflect your sperm health and determine chances of conception. Liquefaction and viscosity are two parameters that relate to the thickness of semen. Under normal conditions, fresh semen liquefies due to the action of enzymes. These enzymes break down the gelatinous structure of the semen, making it watery and promote sperm motility. Biology professionals observe the time taken for a semen sample to liquefy to estimate its degree of viscosity.

How is Semen Tested for Viscosity?

Viscosity is observed in a laboratory environment by first allowing the semen to liquefy. When the liquefaction is complete, the sample is allowed to drop by the force of gravity through a pipette. The length of the thread is measured as the semen drops. If the semen has normal viscosity, it leaves a very small trailing thread. According to WHO specifications, semen with abnormal viscosity leaves a thread more than 2 cm long.

How does Viscosity Affect Male Fertility?

Viscosity makes it difficult for sperm to swim. Reduced motility of sperm diminishes chances of fertilization of the ovum. Scientists have explored lesser-known correlations of semen viscosity with infertility and other disease conditions. Flint and his team studied hyper viscous semen samples and found that their leucocyte count (number of white blood cells) was also elevated. In this case, researchers identified a potential correlation of leukocytospermia with sperm viscosity and its association with male infertility. Patients diagnosed with leukocytospermia also had decreased sperm volume.

Another study confirmed that very viscous semen showed impaired semen quality and adversely affected sperm parameters. Viscous semen could also be the result of an inflammatory condition, infection of the genital tract, genetic predisposition, and environmental factors. The inflammatory condition affected several aspects of the semen, including its zinc, calcium, fructose, and ascorbic acid content. A change in the biochemical composition of the semen adversely affected sperm vitality, motility, and the fertilization capacity of the sperm.

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How is Sperm Viscosity Treated?

Sperm viscosity affects the process of sperm fusion with oocyte in different ways. It causes a decrease in sperm count, prevents the entry of sperm into the cervical mucous membrane, and even affects chromatin stability in sperms. The undesirable effects of increased sperm viscosity manifest as decreased rates of fertilization, conception, and fetal development.

Several treatment approaches are available to treat sperm viscosity in clinical practice. These include the use of mucolytic enzymes, antibiotics, hypodermic needle, and anti-inflammatory agents. However, further research insight is required to devise appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to resolve the basis of sperm viscosity and male infertility.