• English
Birla Fertility & IVF
Birla Fertility & IVF

The Lifespan of Sperm Cells

  • Published on July 29, 2022
The Lifespan of Sperm Cells

The lifespan of sperm after ejaculation varies depending on the circumstances.

Sperm that is ejaculated can remain viable within the female reproductive tract for several days, enabling fertilization for up to five days as long as the sperm remains alive.

Sperm can also be preserved for decades through semen freezing. They stay viable for many years when stored in a properly controlled environment.

If you’re planning to undergo procedures like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), remember that the lifespan of sperm that is washed can remain viable in an incubator for up to 72 hours.

In this article, learn about the lifespan of sperm both inside and outside the body.

How Lifespan of Sperm Affect Pregnancy?

Sperm cells swim to and fertilize the female eggs, resulting in pregnancy. The lifespan of sperm is a significant factor that determines its effectiveness in fertilizing an egg. When sperm is ejaculated into a female’s body, it travels up through the cervix to fertilize the eggs released by the female’s ovaries. Let’s discuss the lifespan of sperm in different circumstances:

  • Lifespan of Sperm 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. When inside the female body, the male sperm can survive for up to 5 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.

  • Lifespan of Sperm Outside the Body

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.

  • Lifespan of Frozen Sperm 

Scientists have discovered that sperm can stay alive for many years 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 lifespan of sperm and allows its survival until it is needed for fertilization or pregnancy.

  • Lifespan of Sperm 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.

How does Sperm Health Affect the Lifespan of Sperm?

The quality of sperm is significantly influenced by a man’s lifestyle choices. A healthier lifestyle contributes to healthier sperm with a longer lifespan. Sperm production in a man’s body is closely tied to his overall health and dietary habits. Here are some factors that can negatively impact sperm health and longevity:

  • Jobs that encourage unhealthy hours of working
  • Stres
  • 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
  • Varicocele
  • Age
  • 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.


The lifespan of sperm varies depending on the circumstances, with the reproductive cycle optimized to occur within the female body, enhancing sperm survival. However, successful pregnancy not only relies on sperm survival but also on its health. Making healthy choices ensures healthier sperm. If you’re striving to turn your dreams of fatherhood into reality, consult our fertility specialist for personalized guidance and treatment plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

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.

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.

Written by:
Dr. Madhulika Sharma

Dr. Madhulika Sharma

Dr. Madhulika Sharma is an esteemed Fertility Specialist with more than 16 years of clinical experience. She is renowned for her exceptional expertise and compassionate approach to helping aspiring parents navigate their fertility journey. With over a decade of experience in reproductive medicine, she specializes in cutting-edge IVF techniques and individualized treatment plans tailored to each couple's unique needs. Her commitment to patient care is evident in her warm, empathetic demeanor and the personalized attention she gives to every case. She is a member of the following societies European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), Indian Fertility Society and Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction.
Meerut, Uttar Pradesh

Our Services

Fertility Treatments

Problems with fertility are both emotionally and medically challenging. At Birla Fertility & IVF, we focus on providing you with supportive, personalized care at every step of your journey towards becoming a parent.

Male Infertility

Male factor infertility accounts for almost 40%-50% of all infertility cases. Decreased sperm function can be the result of genetic, lifestyle, medical or environmental factors. Fortunately, most causes of male factor infertility can be easily diagnosed and treated.

We offer a comprehensive range of sperm retrieval procedures and treatments for couples with male factor infertility or sexual dysfunction.

Donor Services

We offer a comprehensive and supportive donor program to our patients who require donor sperm or donor eggs in their fertility treatments. We are partnered with reliable, government authorised banks to source quality assured donor samples which are carefully matched to you based on blood type and physical characteristics.

Fertility Preservation

Whether you have made an active decision to delay parenthood or are about to undergo medical treatments that may affect your reproductive health, we can help you explore options to preserve your fertility for the future.

Gynaecological Procedures

Some conditions that impact fertility in women such as blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, fibroids, and T-shaped uterus may be treatable with surgery. We offer a range of advanced laparoscopic and hysteroscopic procedures to diagnose and treat these issues.

Genetics & Diagnostics

Complete range of basic and advanced fertility investigations to diagnose causes of male and female infertility, making way for personalized treatment plans.

Our Blogs

By clicking Proceed, you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

You can also reach us at

Do you have a question?

Footer arrow