The liquefaction is the process of sperm becoming liquid once ejaculated.
This happens when the gel formed by proteins from the seminal vesicles is broken up. The semen thus becomes more liquid. It normally takes less than 20 minutes for the sample to change from a thick gel into a liquid.
Why is liquefaction time significant?
The semen gel liquifies to enable the sperm cells to swim more freely through the cervical mucus and towards the egg.
An liquefaction time of more than 60min can reduce the chance of conception, because the sperm cannot start travelling. This may indicate an infection or disorder of the accessory gland function.
A Postcoital Test (PCT) should be performed to access the clinical significance of Delayed Seminal Liquefaction.
- If the PCT result are normal, no further treatment of Delayed Liquefaction is needed. If the sperm is capable of reaching the cervical mucus, fertilisation of the egg can take place and problems of semen liquefaction are therefore not clinically relevant.
- If the PCT result is abnormal, a split ejaculate analysis should be performed. Semen that fails to liquefy suggests a potential prostatic dysfunction, because proteolytic enzymes (“proteases”) are needed from prostatic secretions to liquefaction the protein coagulum, which itself is produced in the seminal vesicles. A further diagnosis of the liquefaction problem is required if there is absence of sperm in the PCT.
How to increase male fertility
There are a number of things a man can do to improve his fertility. These include lifestyle choices such as the elimination of fast food, nicotine and alcohol, regular exercise, restful sleep and the reduction of stress.
In addition, scientific studies have show that an increase in sperm count can be achieved by taking the following food supplements:
- amino acids such as Arginine and Carnitine
- antioxidants such as Glutathione and and co-emzyme Q10
- trace metals such as zinc and selenium
- vitamins such as A, B9 (folic acid), C, D and E
- extracts such as pine bark extracts (Pycgnogenol)
These amino acids, vitamins and trace elements are naturally occurring nutrients and no side effects are to be expected. On the contrary, increasing the supply of such micronutrients causes significant health benefits such as a stabilisation of the immune system, a positive effect on cardiovascular circulation and skin and hair health.
There is therefore no medical reason not to implement a micronutrient rich diet for a minimum of six months to increase fertility. Ideally this should be carried on until successful conception.