How Does The Prostate Effect Semen Volume and Sperm Quality?
The prostate is an important gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It is a large- acorn sized organ that sits between the urinary bladder and the penis. In order for urine or semen to be released from the body it must pass through the prostate, via the prostatic urethra, a section of the male urethra.
Let’s take a closer look at the prostate’s architecture. The Prostate gland has three zones.
First - Transition Zone
Second - The Peripheral Zone
The peripheral zone is the outermost layer, where prostate cancer most commonly arises, hence prostate cancer can be present even without urinary symptoms.
The third zone is the central zone, which makes up 25% of the gland and is the part of the gland where the ejaculatory duct runs through. It is in the space between the transition zone and peripheral zone. The central zone is the part that adds volume to sperm to form semen.
Third - The Central Zone
What Fluids is the Prostate Responsible For?
The prostate is an exocrine gland made up of secretory units to create fluid and ducts within which the prostatic fluid travels. Exocrine glands are organs whose function is to secrete fluids or enzymes - as opposed to endocrine glands which secrete hormones.
Prostatic fluid is alkaline, or basic (the opposite of acidic), it combines with sperm to form semen. The prostate is responsible for at least 1/3 of your seminal volume! It is an extremely important organ to keep sperm healthy when they are emitted from the body. Prostatic fluid is primarily composed of citric acid, which is a crucial molecule in the pathway cells use to make energy, which also acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. Higher concentrations of citrate in semen have been associated with higher sperm count and motility and lower viscosity or thickness of semen. Thinner fluid makes it easier for sperm to move.
The second of three major components of prostatic fluid is zinc, another helpful factor for sperm motility in addition to being a supporter of spermatogenesis or the creation and maturation of sperm. Finally the prostate secretes ɣ gamma-glutamyltransferase into semen. This compound also functions as an antioxidant, allowing for a stable environment both for the prostate and sperm.
The final part in combining prostatic fluids with sperm is contraction of the smooth muscles of the prostate to expel the fluid into the urethra and simultaneously propel your semen to exit your body. Fun fact, men who have higher testosterone have stronger prostatic contractile strength which means faster load shooting!
An additional product of the prostate is PSA or prostate-specific antigen. This is an enzyme prostatic cells release when they are metabolically active. Meaning, the more division these cells undergo, the more PSA is released into the bloodstream.
Preventing Potential Prostate Issues
If you are a gentleman aged 55 or older, your doctor may check this value in your blood as a prostate cancer screen. PSA can be elevated mildly in cases of BPH but elevates significantly in prostate cancer as cancer is a state of rapidly dividing cells.
Does Sperm Health Matter?
All in all, your prostate is a very important support organ for sperm and overall male sexual health. It provides fluids that are vital in supporting your sperm both for motility (or speed in movement) as well as stabilization of their environment especially when expelled. As sperm travel to their destination the alkaline semen neutralizes the acidic vagina, prolonging the lifespan of the sperm, especially within the vagina where the alkaline or basic pH of semen neutralizes the innate acidic environment, which allows for a longer lifespan of the sperm as they travel to their destination.