Difference between Sperm and Semen

Sperm and semen are the parts of the male reproductive system. It is a motile microscopic reproductive cell that is transferred into the female reproductive system through sexual intercourse. Sperms are haploid and possess flagella for the movement. In fertilization, the nucleus of the sperm combines with the nucleus of the female egg and form a fetus that grows into a new organism.

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On the contrary, semen is the seminal fluid that is a whitish and viscous liquid released from the penis. This fluid contains sperms and other seminal plasma liquids which ensue viability of the fluid. Each ejaculation contains almost 2 to 5% volume of semen that immerse the sperms and sustain their mobility.

Comparison Chart

Basis for Comparison Sperm Semen
Definition A sperm is the male gamete or sex cell that fuses with the female ovum to form a zygote. Semen is a male reproductive fluid which contains sperms in suspension.
Etymology Greek word: “sperma” which means “seed” Latin word: “serere” which means “to plant”
Color White or whitish-grey White, grey or yellow
State A little harder Liquid form
Influence Can not influence on the semen Semen can convert the sperm into liquid form
Constituent Head, tail and body Different fluids and acids
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What is Sperm?

Sperm or spermatozoa is known to be the male gamete or sex cell which looks like a tadpole. A human male body produces almost 150 million sperms a day. Its mean, a male is producing a few thousand sperm every couple of second. Mostly sperms produced by the male’s body are useless as each sperm does not fertilize the egg. Sperm has to swim towards the egg to fertilize it. Only a few sperms from the semen can swim to reach the egg and up to 70 to 90% are not ideally shaped for swimming.

Sperms does not start to form in a human body until he hits puberty. By that time, the body’s immune system has already decided which type of cells are part of the human body and which are not. Sperms are semen are protected from the immune system and the body does not attack it as a foreign substance. Sperms differ on the basis of different factors such as lifestyles of personals and culture.

Sperms have half the number of chromosomes than a typical body cell. Average humans cells have 46 chromosomes inside their bodies but the sperm cell has only 23 chromosomes through meiotic cell division. These 23 chromosomes of sperm fuses with the other 23 chromosomes of the female egg to make 46 chromosomes inside of a zygote.

Parts of Sperm Cell

Sperm has three distinctive structural parts; head, midpiece, or body and tail.

Head has tightly twisted chromatin fibers and a nucleus which is surrounded by acrosome which contains enzymes for dissemination of the female egg. The midpiece of the sperm has a centrally placed core made of filament that is abounded by numerous mitochondria necessary for ATP fabrication for the drive through the female cervix, the uterus and uterine tubes. The tail of the sperm is also known as the flagellum which plays a lashing movement to propel the spermatocyte ahead

What is Semen?

Semen is a white, slightly grey or yellow in color. If the ejaculated semen has blood due to some infection, injury or blockage then the color may be a little pinkish or reddish. Ejaculated semen usually turns little sticky or jelly-like after a span of time and after some time turns into the watery fluid. The basic components of semen are sperms, amino acids, prostaglandin, citric acid, enzymes, fructose, proteins, flavins, vitamin C, phosphorylcholine, phosphatase, zinc, mucus, prostate-specific antigen and sialic acid. Semen analysis tests are done to check the infertility in males in which semen and its constituents are analyzed.

Semen Analysis Test

Semen analysis is also called seminogram. This test analyzes the characteristics of semen as well as its sperms. The semen analysis test is the first diagnostic test done to evaluate the male fertility or infertility in the couples who are trying to conceive.

This test analyzes the external characteristics of the sperms such as count, motility and shape in addition to evaluating the volume of the sample provided, pH of the sample and other constituents. Other indications of this analysis test include testing the donor for sperm donation, to check for azoospermia, also as a part of routine pregnancy test and in some pathology cases.

Key Differences between Sperm and Semen

  1. Sperm is the microscopic male reproductive cell whereas semen is the seminal vesicle in which millions of sperms are found.
  2. Sperm is a genetic cell and is haploid whereas semen has characteristics of nourishing the sperm cells and keep them motile.
  3. Sperm is a Greek word “sperma” which means “seed” whereas semen is a Latin word “serere” which means “to plant”
  4. Sperms are not visible to the naked eye whereas viscous seminal liquid is visible to the naked eye.
  5. Sperm consists of three parts; head, tail and body whereas semen consists of fluids and acids.
  6. Sperm ha the ability to move and combine with the female cell whereas semen cannot play such a role on its own.


In conclusion, sperm is the name given to the reproductive cell and seminal fluid is the stuff in which sperms swim. Sperms and seminal fluids together form semen.

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