The most common causes of clear semen are immaturity or pre-pubescence and frequent ejaculations, often five or more per day. Outside of these two circumstances, low sperm count may be to blame. Semen most often has an opaque milky coloring due in part to the proteins that typically surround the sperm to nourish and protect them. Boys and young men who are just beginning to develop their full reproductive potential may see clear semen as the body works itself up to full sperm production, and men who ejaculate really frequently may also see clear-colored discharge if their bodies are struggling to create enough proteins and other substances to meet the demand. In most other cases, though, translucent ejaculate may be a sign that something is amiss, and may also be an indication of fertility issues.
As a Sign of Immaturity
Sexual maturity in boys usually begins around age 11, and in most cases boys will experience their first ejaculation around age 13. This is a signal that the testes are housing seminal fluid and that the reproductive system is coming into force. It is unusual for a young man’s initial ejaculations to be as potent as they will be later on in life, though, and for many the semen runs clear for the first year or more of discharges. In most cases this is perfectly normal and is not a cause for concern.
Men who are very active sexually or who masturbate at very frequent intervals may also notice colorless or even thin, watery semen, particularly as the day wears on. In most cases this is simply a matter of basic biology. The body will do the best it can to provide supplies to meet environmental demands, but if there are more ejaculations than there is quality, rich semen, something thinner and clearer may be all that’s available. In general, it takes about five hours for to body to rebuild sperm volume and semen nutrients after ejaculation. As such, men who discharge five or more times per day, or who do so in very close succession, may naturally notice clearer semen.
Low Sperm Count
Over a longer period, however, uniformly clear semen could indicate a low sperm count, since sperm are one of the main things that contribute to semen’s somewhat cloudy appearance. “Low sperm count” is a clinical term used for men whose semen doesn’t contain the usual number of sperm by volume. A normal count is usually between 20 to 150 million sperm cells per milliliter (7 grams) of sperm. Clear liquid often contains some, but often not much. A thin texture to the semen is also a potential indication of a low sperm count, particularly if it is ejaculated without its customarily coagulated consistency. This isn’t usually a problem from a health standpoint, but it can make impregnating a woman more difficult.
Men who are worried are usually advised to speak with a qualified medical care provider, often a urologist. Urologists have expertise in the male reproductive system and fertility. Experts will usually start by running a semen analysis to measure the population and vitality of the man’s sperm. He or she may urge a man with a low sperm count to change to a less acidic diet and abstain from masturbation, particularly if a baby is being planned.
Implications for Fertility
The causes of infertility in men are many, ranging from aging, hormone deficiencies, and genetic inheritance to illness, alcohol abuse, and smoking. If semen is consistently clear for a year and a couple is unable to conceive a child, it is possible the man is suffering from what is known as “primary infertility.” Every month, a fertile and regularly sexually active couple has about a 25 percent chance of becoming pregnant. If after a year no pregnancies have occurred, there may be a problem. A couple is said to be suffering from “secondary infertility” if they have already conceived a child, but are struggling to get pregnant again.