Sperm vs. Semen

Sperm and semen are mistakenly used interchangeably, but they are not the same substance. Sperm cells are actually a part of the semen, which is the whitish, viscous fluid released from the penis, according to Medline Plus. Sperm leaves the body through the mix of bodily fluids that makeup semen. This fluid contains fructose and proteolytic enzymes that facilitate the mobility of sperm outside the male reproductive tract.

What is Sperm?

Sperm is the motile microscopic male reproductive cell which is transmitted into the female reproductive system through a process of sexual intercourse.


What is Semen?

Semen refers to the seminal fluid that is a whitish and viscous liquid released from the penis. The semen contains the sperm cells and other seminal plasma liquids which ensure viability of the fluid. Every ejaculation contains 2 to 5% volume of semen containing fluids that immerse the sperm cells, sustaining them ensuring motility till fetus formation.


 Key Differences

  1. Sperm is the microscopic male reproductive cell while semen refers to the seminal fluid that contains millions of sperms.
  2. Sperm is the genetic bearer and is haploid, while semen has no such characteristic other than nourishing the sperm cells and keeping them motile.
  3. Sperm comes from the Greek word “sperma” meaning “seed” while semen comes from the root Latin word “serere” meaning “to plant”.
  4. Sperm cells are microscopic and not visible to the normal eye but semen is a viscous liquid easily visible.
  5. Sperm cells, produced by the testes in humans, represent 2–5% of semen volume
  6. The primary difference between sperm and semen is that sperm are the actual sex cells, whereas semen is the fluid in which the sperm are located. Both of these are necessary for the successful reproduction of human beings.
  7. Sperm is a microscopic organism they resemble tadpoles, they have a head & tail. Millions of them reside in the male ejaculate fluid known as semen, the sperm swims in fluid in order to reach the egg of the female for fertilization. Semen is usually white in color, & is mainly sticky. It is the fluid released by the male after he is over stimulated mainly during intercourse; the millions of sperm reside in this fluid.
  8. Semen has high nutritional content to feed the sperm. Semen is the secretion which contains the sperm.Semen may not contain the sperm in males who have diseases. If the sperm is not in good quality or quantity, the male cannot produce a child. (infertile/ sub fertile)

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