Lifespan of Sperm
- Published on July 29, 2022
- Updated on July 29, 2022
Infertility affects both men and women equally. While there is a popular belief that infertility is related to the female partner alone, according to NCBI, about 50% of all infertility cases report the male factor to be substantially contributory.
Neither the female partner nor the male partner is solely responsible for infertility. Therefore, it is important to understand sperm health and mechanics in order to truly appreciate the probability of pregnancy or infertility.
Sperm quality is a function of lifestyle and health factors. The potency of sperm to fertilize a female egg depends on the health and fitness of the male.
The lifespan of sperm is another factor that determines its effectiveness in fertilizing an egg. It thus helps to learn about everything necessary in order to maximize the chances of pregnancy.
In this blog, learn about the lifespan of sperm and more insightful details from Dr. Shobhna who can help couples plan their family at the right time.
The lifespan of sperm
What is sperm?
Sperm refers to male reproductive cells that originate in the testicles. Sperm cells swim to and fertilize the female eggs, resulting in pregnancy.
The sperm is released with ejaculation into a female’s body. From there, the sperm travels up through the cervix to fertilize the eggs released by the female’s ovaries.
This journey is a long one, and very few sperm actually remain alive by the end of it. Let’s discuss the sperm lifetime in order to understand how to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy.
Sperm lifetime in the female body
Males are capable of releasing about 1.5 to 5 ml of sperm into the female’s body at one time.
The sperm travels up the vaginal canal and through the cervix to reach the ovaries, where the female body has released eggs. The sperm then pierces the eggs and fertilizes them to create life.
When inside the female body, the male sperm can survive for up to five days after being released. The presence of nourishing fluids inside the female’s body ensures that the sperm cells stay alive until they can fertilize the eggs released.
This essentially means that a woman can still get pregnant even five days after intercourse.
Sperm lifetime outside
Sperm is designed to survive inside the female body to enable the highest probability of conception. It cannot survive for long in an environment it is not designed for.
If ejaculation happens outside the female body, for example, during the “pull-out” or withdrawal method of sexual intercourse, the sperm can survive only for up to an hour.
Until the time the fluid covering the cells keeps the sperm alive, the sperm can survive; when the fluid dries out, the sperm cells die.
With that said, it is still possible that the female may get pregnant even when the partner practices the withdrawal method.
Not many studies exist to corroborate this, but it is believed that pre-ejaculation fluid that escapes the male’s genitalia can survive long enough for impregnation to happen.
Sperm lifetime when frozen
Scientists have discovered that sperm can stay alive indefinitely when frozen. This is a very useful finding for men who are undergoing infertility treatment or stand a risk of losing fertility due to diseases like cancer.
Freezing sperm enables men to remain fertile and use high-quality sperm at a later date even if their sperm quality at that time is poor.
When frozen at -196° (provided that this temperature remains fairly stable for as long as the sperm is stored frozen), the sperm passes into a suspended animation state wherein the biological processes come to a complete pause.
This elongates the sperm lifetime and allows its survival until it is needed for fertilization or pregnancy.
Sperm lifetime inside the testicles
Testicles are the part of the male reproductive system that is responsible for manufacturing and storing sperm. It typically takes around 72 days to produce sperm; however, the process is continuous. The testicles constantly produce and store sperm.
In an average male, mature sperm can survive inside the testicles for a period of a few weeks. However, the longer the sperm remains inside the testicles, the faster its quality declines.
As a result, abstinence is not good for sperm health, even though the sperm count may increase during that time.
Sperm health is majorly a function of a male’s lifestyle choices. Healthier lifestyle results in healthier sperm and longer sperm life.
The sperm production process in a male’s body depends largely on his overall health and the food choices he makes. Some of the factors that can adversely affect sperm life and health in a male are as follows:
- Jobs that encourage unhealthy hours of working
- Tobacco, drugs, and alcohol use
- Weight of the male
- Unfavourable temperatures for the testicles
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- X-Rays, radiation
- Heavy metals in the body
- Infections, diseases
- Hormonal imbalances
- Surgeries or medication
- Genetic factors
- Physical issues
- Physical trauma to the testes
If you are aiming for a successful pregnancy, it is necessary to check against all the issues that could be causing the sperm to not function properly.
The reasons mentioned above encompass all the likely problem areas – lifestyle, medical and environmental. Considering each issue one by one to rule it out is a good approach to determining whether or not the sperm is healthy enough for a pregnancy.
If not, the doctor may ask you to make certain lifestyle changes and take medications to help the case.
Also check how to increase sperm count
The life span of sperm isn’t very long outside the female body. This part of the reproduction cycle was designed to happen inside the female body – and that is what maximizes the sperm’s survival.
Pregnancy, however, depends not just on sperm survival but also on its health. Healthy choices ensure healthy sperm.
If you wish to learn more about sperm life, visit Birla Fertility and IVF, or book an appointment with Dr. Shobhna.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it common to live 5 days sperm?/Can sperm live up to 5 days?/Is it common for sperm to live up to 5 days?
Yes, when ejaculation happens inside a female’s vagina, the bodily fluids help provide the environment and the nutrients required by the sperm to survive. This helps improve the sperm life time inside the female body to up to 5 days.
2. How long will the sperm wait for an egg?
When the female body releases an egg, it only survives for 12 to 24 hours. This means the sperm must reach it within that time for a successful pregnancy. If the sperm reaches the fallopian tube too early, it may die waiting for the release of an egg if it doesn’t happen within 72 hours.
3. Is one time sperm enough for pregnancy?
It takes only one sperm to fertilize an egg and initiate pregnancy. However, for that fertilization to happen, the sperm must first reach the fallopian tube and penetrate the egg. Whether or not a sperm can do that depends on sperm health. Typically, every single ejaculation releases 100 million sperm.
4. Can 2 drops of sperm cause a pregnancy?
Two drops of male semen contain millions of sperms. To get pregnant, the female egg needs only one sperm to fertilize it. Whether or not fertilization happens depends on if the sperm is able to reach the egg.
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