Semen is a biological substance produced in the male sexual organs and ejaculated from the penis during sexual intercourse or masturbation. Semen contains sperm cells and fluids that help support those cells during reproduction. The typical ejaculation produces between 0.1 and 10 milliliters of semen. The quantity and quality of a man’s semen can be affected by a number of factors. Frequency of ejaculation, dehydration, diet, age and overall health can all have an impact on the amount of semen a man produces.
Hydration is one of the most important factors affecting semen quantity. A man’s body needs to ingest a sufficient volume of liquid each day for proper functioning. Dehydration through exercise or excessive alcohol intake can lead to a lower volume of semen production.
The frequency of sexual encounters also can have an impact on semen quantity. Men can only produce a certain amount of semen and sperm cells in a day, and multiple encounters usually lead to lower volumes of semen being ejaculated. Abstaining from sexual intercourse or masturbation for several days or weeks can lead to larger quantities of semen.
Semen quantity also can be affected by a man's age and physical health. As men get older they tend to produce a lower volume of semen during each ejaculation. Proper nutrition and exercise can help boost semen production, as can wearing less constrictive undergarments. Some also men recommend Kegel-type exercises to improve control and enhance sexual performance.
An unusually low volume of semen is called hypospermia and can be caused by several medical conditions. Some cases of low semen quantity can be caused by an obstruction of the ejaculatory duct. Other cases may result from retrograde ejaculation, infection or hormone problems. Chronic hypospermia can often be surgically treated.
Some dietary supplements are advertised to help increase testosterone and semen quantity. These include certain amino acids, as well as zinc and some herbal supplements. While some men believe these substances help increase the volume of their ejaculate, there is no firm scientific research into these supplements, their benefits or their possible side effects.
Men who are concerned about the quality or quantity of their semen should get a health check-up from a doctor and regularly check their testicles for lumps and other abnormalities. Problems with semen could indicate a more severe medical condition. A men's reproductive health specialist can help men deal with medical issues involving the testicles and male urinary tract.