Semen isn’t just a vehicle to transport sperm. It’s basically like a giant bouncer/ personal assistant/nanny for sperm cells. When produced correctly, semen shields sperm from a sometimes hostile environment, makes its journey to the egg a little easier, and provides nutrition to the delicate cells for the incredibly difficult task ahead of them. Since it has to do so many different tasks, semen is comprised of several different fluids and factors that can help sperm do their jobs. One of these factors is semen pH (how acidic the semen is).
To understand semen pH, we need to first understand the basics of pH (get it?). The abbreviation “pH” stands for power of Hydrogen. The “H” is always capitalized because it is an element symbol. pH is used as a scale to indicated how acidic or basic (alkaline) a solution is. It ranges from 0 to 14, meaning that anything with a pH of 7 is neutral, anything above 7 is basic and anything under 7 is acidic. So as the pH number goes down, acidity increases, and vice versa. Here’s
a more detailed description of pH, as well as a scale for reference.
Why is Semen’s pH Important?
To look at why semen pH is important, we first have to look at the other half of the equation: the vagina. In an ideal world, vaginal pH maintains a balance of good and bad bacteria, which helps prevent infections. However, to protect from bad bacteria and maintain a healthy balance, the vaginal environment tends to be slightly acidic. Vaginal pH levels also change frequently, depending on the time in her cycle, sexual activity, even her diet and exercise.
So what do her pH levels have to do with your swimmers? Like we said, your semen exists largely to protect your sperm from the outside environment. This includes protection from a potentially damaging acidic environment. To maintain a balanced environment for the sensitive sperm cells, semen should be fairly basic so that it can counteract the generally acidic environment of the vagina.
You know those little strips that people use to determine the chlorine levels in their pool? That’s called pH paper and it can also be used to test the pH of semen. In a lab, the technician will let the semen sample sit for 30 to 60 minutes and then place a small amount on this paper. This color change in the paper is indicative of the pH level of the sample. Some labs will also use a pH meter-a device that provides a numerical value of pH.
What’s a Normal pH Level?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average pH of semen should range between 7.2 and 8. This is just slightly basic, making it the perfect protective environment for sperm. If your semen has a pH below 7 (acidic), it is acidic. This could impair your chances at conception, and be a sign of a blockage of your seminal vesicles. If your semen has a pH above 8 (basic), this can impair you sperm motility and be a sign of an infection.
What to Do About It
It’s entirely possible to change the pH of your semen. Here are a few tips to get a healthier pH:
Eat a balanced diet
: We know the temptation to eat junk is out there, but it’s important to maintain a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins. Here’s
a guide to eating a fertility friendly diet.
: It can be hard to get all of the nutrients you need for healthy sperm. That’s why there are now several fertility blend supplements
designed specifically for men.
Avoid toxins: Exposure to dangerous chemicals (including smoking and drinking) can cause highly acidic semen. Cut back on the smokes and keep an eye on the chemicals you’re exposed to on a daily basis.