Possibly the grossest thing you’ll come across on your semen analysis report, “semen liquefaction time” often leaves people with more questions than answers. What does it mean? Why does it happen? And why does liquefaction time matter?
What does “liquefaction” mean?
Liquefaction is a process that starts immediately after ejaculation. When your semen is first released, it should be fairly gelatinous, with a texture resembling egg whites (we’re so sorry for that analogy). Over time, the proteins that make your semen gelatinous are broken down by enzymes that were released from the prostate when you ejaculated. This typically takes around 20-30 minutes.
Why does semen liquefaction happen?
It’s not called the “miracle of life” for nothing. Your sperm have an insanely difficult journey ahead of them if they want to make it to the egg.Your body tries to give the little guys all the help they can get. When semen is first ejaculated, its gel-like form helps the sperm stay inside the vagina. In a throw-back to our evolutionary days, semen coagulation also prevents another guys swimmers from beating yours to the punch, with the thick, jelly-like substance forming a barrier against any other guy’s swimmers that might be coming down the pipeline. After a few minutes, the semen begins to liquefy to allow sperm an easier trip up the cervix- think of it as the difference between swimming in jello and swimming in water. It’s a lot easier to swim in a liquid than a gel.
How long should semen liquefaction take?
The short answer: semen liquefaction should take 20-30 minutes. With liquefaction time, it’s this window you should shoot for. A liquefaction time of less than 20 minutes won’t have a significant impact on your fertility. However, a longer liquefaction time of longer than 30 minutes starts to impair your sperms’ ability to reach the egg. If you have a liquefaction time of over 60 minutes, you run the danger of your sperm getting trapped in the semen, unable to make the jump to the cervix.
What causes a long liquefaction time?
Infection is the most common cause of a long liquefaction time. This is because of a few factors. First, whenever there is an infection in your body, there is a high amount of white blood cells present in the area to fight off the infection. The extra cells present can cause the natural break-down of proteins to slow even further as more cells have to be broken down. Check out this article for more info on the role of white blood cells in your fertility.
Second, this could indicate that your body is producing the correct amount of ingredients for healthy semen. Semen isn’t just comprised of sperm-in fact, sperm only make up roughly 5% of your semen. The rest is a mixture of nutrients for the sperm cells, acids, lipids, and the enzymes that will eventually cause liquefaction. These enzymes are produced by the prostate, so a long liquefaction time could also indicate an infection or dysfunction of your prostate. A visit to your doctor should be able to tell you if you have an infection. If one is found, antibiotic treatments will likely clear the infection, as well as the long liquefaction time associated with it.
Another cause of a long liquefaction time could be dehydration. It makes logical sense: semen is one of the bodily fluids that suffers when it can’t be replenished by water. If you’ve noticed that your semen has been thicker recently, try increasing your water consumption. To figure out how much water you should be drinking, take your weight in pounds and divide it by two: that’s how many ounces of water you should drink each day.