What Are the Common Causes of Gel in Semen?

Dehydration is one of the most common causes of gel in semen.
Dietary changes, such as consuming more protein, can be the cause of gel in semen.
Gel in semen accompanied by fatigue can be an indicator of low testosterone.
Semen is produced in the testes, which are contained in the scrotum.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Kathleen Howard
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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The most common causes of gel-like clumps and globules in semen are dehydration, poor diet, and low testosterone. In some cases gel may also be related to protein coagulation, particularly if a man hasn’t ejaculated in a while or doesn’t have a regular pattern of consistent discharge. In rarer cases it can be a sign of semen “allergy” or rejection, or may also be a symptom of infection. Gel in semen can be unsightly or alarming, but it doesn’t usually cause any discomfort, and isn’t a cause for concern in most cases. Medical experts usually say that, in general, gel-like semen is only something to worry about when accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain or bloody discharge.

Understanding Semen Consistency

Men who report gel in their semen are usually talking about the ejaculate’s appearance and texture, not it’s actual composition — it is rare to find true gel in semen. A man may have noticed small, gel-like clumps in his semen or be noticing that his semen is thicker than normal. Gel-like pieces or particles aren’t all that uncommon. They often appear as small clumps, but can also come as long threads or strands, often resembling spaghetti. In some cases, the entire ejaculate is thick, often with the consistency of sticky mucus or soft rubber.

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None of these things necessarily means that a man has unhealthy semen or otherwise impaired sperm, though nailing down the exact cause is usually a good idea in order to rule out possible problems. Healthy men usually find that their semen changes consistency somewhat regularly, and gel accumulations are often traceable to specific events, stressors, or changes in diet. In these cases the gel will usually go away on its own after a few days or weeks.

Dehydration and Diet

Semen, like most of the human body, is made up primarily of water, and clumps are usually caused by dehydration. Men who don’t take in enough water often risk dehydrating many of their moistest membranes. The body usually begins self-preservation by “robbing” water of certain sources before others, and semen is often a ripe source. Without enough water, the semen grows thicker, cloudier, and may begin coagulating. In most cases this can be solved in a day or so by increasing water intake, which is particularly important in the warmer summer months and for people who participate in strenuous exercise.

Consistency changes may also be caused by a change in diet. If a man is consuming more protein than usual, for instance, his semen may appear thicker. Increased caloric intake or dramatic changes in the sorts of foods a man is eating can also contribute, but again things will generally return to normal after the body acclimatizes. This can take a week or more; longer if the dietary changes are sporadic or inconsistent.

Hormone Problems

Thick or lumpy semen also might be because of a problem with a man’s hormone levels, particularly where testosterone is concerned. This sex hormone is responsible for controlling much of the male reproductive process, as well as contributing to more masculine features like facial hair and muscle mass.

There are a couple of reasons why men might suffer from low testosterone, including fertility issues, prostate problems, and general chemical imbalances in the brain. Even stress can cause the consistency of a man’s semen to change. If low testosterone is to blame for semen consistency, the appearance of the gel is often accompanied by fatigue, irritability and decreased libido. Men should consult their physician if these symptoms persist for more than two weeks since this could be a sign of a more serious hormonal imbalance or other issue.

Protein Coagulation

Infrequent ejaculation can also cause the semen to appear lumpy. If a man ejaculates on a random pattern, usually separated by intervals of several weeks or months, protein might begin to build up inside his testicles. Many men compare the consistency of the gel-like particles that come out in these instances to tapioca pudding.

Infection

If the semen has become so thick that it is difficult or uncomfortable to ejaculate, an infection might be to blame. Prostate infections will frequently affect the color and consistency of semen, and epidytimis, a medical condition related to swelling in the scrotum, can also cause the semen to appear gel-like. Sexually active males who are suffering from epidytimis should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, since this is a common symptom.

Agglutination

A rare but nonetheless possible cause of gel in semen is an overabundance of antibodies in the sperm, which is known as sperm agglutination. Sperm agglutination is caused by a man’s body mistakenly recognizing his sperm as a foreign substance. To rid the body of this substance, the immune system releases antibodies to cling to and fight the sperm. This condition is rare enough that it usually is diagnosed only when a man is tested for infertility.

Consequences and Context

Most of the time, gel-like semen is not a sign of a larger problem and needs no special treatment. In fact, in terms of fertility, gelatinous semen is often biologically preferred. Thin, watery ejaculate is less able to adhere to the vaginal walls. This can make it difficult for sperm to reach a woman’s egg during intercourse, which in turn can make it harder to get pregnant. Unless a man is concerned by the gel-like appearances or is experiencing other symptoms like pain or discomfort, his condition may be considered normal. If other symptoms do arise, though, or if things don’t return to normal on their own or with a few lifestyle changes, men are usually advised to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the cause.

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Discuss this Article

anon966139
Post 16

Here is a serious pro tip: celery. Half a stalk a day. And for those of you lucky enough to have a receiver, 1:1 ratio of water to pineapple juice. Drink it all day on most days. No coffee.

anon963615
Post 15

I have some jelly in my semen. I have just one child, who is seven years old. I am diabetic and take insulin three times a day. I want to know if that causes any effect on my sperm since I have no more children.

aahmed83
Post 14

I did not know that I have gel in my semen until I had a semen check up in the hospital prior to getting married, to see my sperm count. I got a good sperm count, but there was a comment that there were some gel pieces in my semen. I asked the urologist doctor about it, but he doesn’t have a clue. But he said that I should not worry about it since there is no pain or blood.

I had low testosterone last time I checked, but the doctor told me that it will increase in time. He just recommended me to eat well and get enough sleep.

Lately, I've noticed the gel amount has increased and I can feel it when I ejaculate but with no pain at all. I will see a good urologist for this gel thing and I will do a semen test. Not that I’m worried about it, but I’m just interested in knowing what it is.

anon952424
Post 13

I used to get spaghetti like semen. In fact, it was like that for about the first two years of masturbation and the first year of sexual activity, and I don't mean little pieces of it were stringy. I mean like the whole entire load was one continuous string. Pardon my terminology there. I don't have any idea why it was like that or why it stopped but for me at least, it hasn't ever been that way in the fourteen years since it stopped being like that.

anon932166
Post 11

If you're a regular user of medicine, this may be the reason for the low testosterone level that causes the jelly problem. I have Chrohn's disease and therefore take asathioprine (a sort of artificial cortisone) on a daily basis. If you use cortisone or cortisone-like drugs, these may well result in low testosterone over time (as well as other imbalances -- see the inlay papers of your medicine to find out more about this.) It's a very powerful drug. You might want to try a more balanced diet, as some foods are more likely to raise the levels of testosterone than others.

anon359866
Post 10

A lot of people are coming out now describing semen spaghetti. Is there still no resolution? There's an ongoing Reddit thread about it, but no one there seemed to know (they actually linked here!)

anon348961
Post 9

I get this too, but when it happens it's usually after a long period of non-ejaculation. There's no discomfort; in fact, it feels better than ejaculating regularly. The gummy-like substance kind of indicates to me that I haven't ejaculated in a while. I don't really think much of it or that it's a bad thing like I used to, because I've had this problem for a few years now (that I've noticed at least).

anon346420
Post 8

I have a jelly in my semen like spaghetti. Please, if anyone has a cure, just tell me?

anon337023
Post 7

As anon256245 reported, this issue typically goes away with increased testosterone levels. The gelled secretions return (within three or four weeks) when hormone replacement treatment is stopped. Also, frequent ejaculations seem to minimize or eliminate this problem. My theory is that low testosterone levels allows the secretions of the ejaculatory fluids stagnate, perhaps from lack of arousal and the common pre-semen leaks with high T levels. This ejaculatory fluid thickens into a gel like substance in the tiny conduits/tubes hence the stringy like appearance once it is expelled during ejaculation.

This is just my two cents, but I say forget the medical community and the bogus steroid scare of the 80's, seek your own T supply and use some common sense.

Unfortunately, in this country, hormone therapy for me is nearly nonexistent due to the "steroid scare" of the 80's. Unless your T levels are at those of an 70 year old man, don't expect the medical community to help.

anon336443
Post 6

I had this and it was cancer! Do not listen to these "it's not a big deal" posts. For me, I had this problem for a year. They tested me for STDs, which I knew I didn't have, they then did a visual evaluation on my testicles and saw nothing.

A year passed. I had severe pain in my testicle, so I went to emergency and the ultrasound revealed there was a tumor inside my left testicle. A C/T scan made this area glow like a light bulb. A week later, I had my testicle removed. A week has passed since my surgery and I can do normal activities; the recovery time is small. Testicular cancer is very common in men, and it also has the highest cure rate at 97 percent. Do not put it off. If you have pain or anything that you know should not be in there, go get checked.

anon326068
Post 5

@post 4: I have experienced this from time to time. It may be a combination of many things in the above post. Lack of sleep or seriously irregular sleeping patterns caused me to have low testosterone levels. This can be fixed in several ways. Adjusting my sleeping patterns (getting plenty of sleep) in combination with taking a zinc supplement which turns estrogen into testosterone was something I found particularly effective. Also, getting plenty of vitamin D (something which I figured I also lacked due to my irregular sleeping pattern - vitamin D coming from the sun) and regular exercise also help.

You may find you do some of these things already. Good luck troubleshooting (no pun intended, as this would be cruel).

anon325018
Post 4

I don't know what gel is like to you, but I had a half inch spaghetti noodle come out with my semen. It's rubbery and sticky. What on earth could it be. I'm scared and don't want anybody to know. Please help.

anon256245
Post 1

I had the gel problem. At first it was sporadic, but over time it became more regular and problematic. It was not painful but there was some discomfort. I talked to my regular MD and a urologist. They did not really help. I started testosterone shots for other reasons, but the "gel" problem disappeared after my first "T" injection. I've since stopped "T" at my primary's request and the gel problem returned.

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