Skip to Content

Why “Sperm” Isn’t a Substitute for “Semen”

I recently read a story that contained the phrase “as many sperm…as possible.”

“Many sperm”?

Well, it’s not wrong. The plural of “sperm” is in fact “sperm”, and there are millions of sperm in typical male ejaculate. And even though fluids tend to be uncountable, we could still count “many drops” of a fluid.

But “many sperm” seems strange. I think it’s because I would’ve expected “much sperm,” since people tend to think “sperm” and “semen” mean the same thing.

Well, they don’t: Semen is the fluid that is ejaculated, and it contains sperm (along with many other substances). So “much sperm” is flat-out wrong.

But I still have an issue with “many sperm.” I don’t think it conveys the right message: Are we focused on the tiny swimming cells looking for an egg? Or are we focused on the fluid? I think it’s the latter.

The other thing that bothers me about this is that it reminds me that biology and sex-ed classes don’t teach enough about human reproduction. Kinda like “vagina” (ugh!).

So, if you really must, use “semen.” Of course, you should be using a euphemism or slang term instead:

  • I like “fluids,” but this can be ambiguous.
  • See if you can get away with “juices.”
  • “Spunk” needs to make a comeback. “Cum” is just too informal, in my view.