[Frontiers in Bioscience E5, 224-231, January 1, 2013]

Semen hyperviscosity: causes, consequences, and cures

Stefan Stephanus du Plessis1, Sheila Gokul2, Ashok Agarwal2

1Division of Medical Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, P.O. Box 19063, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa, 2Center for Reproductive Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA


1. Abstract
2. Introduction
3. Semen and its constituents
4. Defining and assessing
5. Contributors to SHV
6. Sperm and Semen Parameters in SHV
7. SHV and Fertility
8. Treatment
9. Conclusion 10. Perspective 11. References


The prevalence of semen hyperviscosity (SHV) is estimated to be between 12-29% and can lead to male factor infertility both in vivo and in vitro. Semen is composed of fluids secreted by the male accessory glands, which contain proteins essential to the coagulation and liquefaction of semen. Hypofunction of the prostate or seminal vesicles causes abnormal viscosity of seminal fluid. Infection and high levels of seminal leukocytes may also result in the development of SHV. Oxidative stress and biochemical and genetic factors can furthermore contribute to this condition. Hyperviscosity can impair normal sperm movement in the female reproductive tract, and can lead to decreased sperm count. SHV is treated with a hypodermic needle, mucolytic enzymes, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents in certain cases. Further research is needed to better understand the contributors to SHV and the treatments that can be used for infertile males with hyperviscous semen.