Semen: color and appearance may indicate diseases in the intimate area
Ensuring male intimate health involves, among many factors, proper hygiene, use of condoms, and attention to symptoms that may indicate the presence of STIs , such as genital warts and burning when urinating. Even the appearance and odor of semen can report diseases in the male intimate area. Know the characteristics of a healthy sperm and when it raises suspicions:
The composition of the semen can be divided into two parts: the seminal plasma and the spermatozoa. According to the urologist Reginaldo Martello, of the Department of Human Reproduction of the Brazilian Society of Urology, about 70% of seminal plasma is produced in the seminal vesicles, containing amino acids, enzymes and mainly fructose, which is the energy source of sperm cells. "The other 30% are produced by the prostate and contain, among other elements, acid phosphatase and citric acid," he says. These substances have the role of neutralizing the acidic environment of the vaginal canal, which is naturally harmful to sperm.
Spermatozoa are, at the same time, carried and fed by the semen to the inside of the uterus. They are produced in the testicles and join the seminal fluid in the prostatic urethra, to be released at the time of ejaculation. The spermatozoon is a cell composed of a nucleus ("head") carrying the genetic material, and a tail or flagellum, responsible for motility.
The specialist says that habits such as smoking, alcoholism and use of drugs or anabolics can dramatically affect semen composition and male fertility. "Infections of the genito-urinary tract also play an important part in the seminal constitution."
Consistency and color
Soon after ejaculation the semen is heterogeneous, as it is coagulated. The viscous and thick consistency serves to aid the sperm's adherence in the uterus, facilitating fertilization. "Subsequently, the sperm becomes uniform and more liquid as the coagulating effect ends," says the urologist Reginaldo.
The color varies from white to transparent, and may vary depending on the period of time between ejaculations or sexual abstinence . Prostate bleeding or seminal vesicles can leave the semen brown. "The presence of live blood in the sperm should also be an alert to get medical help," says urologist Mauro Pinheiro, Department of Sexual Medicine and Infertility of the Brazilian Society of Urology - Regional Rio Janeiro. Viral or bacterial infections can leave semen with a yellow or purulent appearance - a symptom that should also be investigated.
According to experts, semen has its characteristic scent, which can vary from person to person. "Very marked odor changes may be suspected of infection," says urologist Mauro. So, if you notice any change in semen odor, especially very strong or putrid smells, check out a medical appointment.
Can taste really change?
Much is said about the influence of diet on the taste of semen - a since the amino acids and fructose that make up sperm also come from food. Under this logic, the type of protein ingested (animal or vegetable), as well as the amount of fruits and sugars consumed could interfere with the taste, leaving it more bitter, acidic or even sweet. However, the urologist Reginaldo states that there is insufficient information in the scientific literature confirming this possibility. "The composition of semen is basically amino acids, enzymes and fructose, but that does not mean that diet can alter that composition or the taste of sperm," he explains.Quantity does not indicate quality
Healthy sperm has an ejaculated volume equal to or greater than 1.5 ml, with sperm contributing only 5% of this total. "Therefore, the amount of ejaculated sperm has no relation to the fertility of man," says Reginaldo Martello. This is because a semen with normal volume may contain no spermatozoa (azoospermia), or have much altered quantity and quality, making this individual an infertile man. "Men who have had a vasectomy surgery, for example, may be totally infertile and have a normal semen volume," says urologist Mauro. Therefore, the fertility evaluation is only dimensioned with the semen analysis (spermogram) and never by its volume.
Does sexual desire interfere with ejaculation?
"The amount of sperm varies mainly with the time interval between the ejaculations, "explains the urologist Reginaldo. In this way, spending several days without ejaculating can result in a seminal volume, and ejaculations very close to each other lead to a smaller volume. "However, sexual excitement stimulates increased viscosity and increased secretion of the glands involved in semen production, factors that can increase the amount of sperm at the time of ejaculation," says Mauro Pinheiro.
Fertility assessment tests
As semen appearance and quantity do not report changes in male fertility, it is necessary to consult a urologist and make a complete clinical and laboratory analysis. "The main test to investigate infertility is the spermogram, but hormonal and imaging tests, biopsies and genetic tests can also be ordered when they have specific indications," explains urologist Reginaldo. These tests are mainly done when there is a supposedly fertile couple attempting unsuccessful pregnancies, usually after a minimum of six months of trying. Any other symptoms that raise suspected infertility or genitourinary diseases also require medical evaluation.
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