How Long Can Sperm Live?


If you are among those people who wonder about the question how long can sperm live, then you are in luck because we have collected information on all there is to a sperm’s life.

Generally speaking, sperms don’t last that long. It will get dry and die just within few minutes if it is released anywhere apart from a female’s vagina. Exceptions are always there. Its life depends on different factors like the temperature of the surface and moisture.

How Long Can Sperm Live Inside the Body?

The question of sperm’s life in a female body is subject to a lot of debate. However, considering the facts, how long can a sperm really survive inside the body? The sperm’s life ranges from few hours to a maximum of 5 days on the basis of the condition.

  • The majority of sperms die only within minutes after they are released inside the vagina or even outside the woman’s body. Very few survive so much that they fertilize the egg. To do this, they need to swim quite a distance in the cervix.
  • In case, the sperms are not able to reach the cervix, they don’t live more than a few hours because of the acidic environment of the vaginal tract. If they do reach the cervix, they may live for three to four days.
  • As soon as the sperm enters the woman’s genital tract, which is the cervix and then the uterus, majority die in one to two days although they can live up to five days. This means the maximum that the sperm lives in the cervical fluid or simply the uterus is five days. Sperms usually don’t live for five days, even in cervical mucus. At typical sperm’s life span is one to two days and less than that if the fertile cervical mucus is not present.
  • Studies show that the majority of pregnancies occurs one to two days before ovulation and right on the day of ovulation. It is around the ovulation time that the body tends to produce more cervical mucus that provides the sperms favorable conditions to survive. It helps them to travel a distance beyond the cervix and into the Fallopian tube. However, pregnancies may also occur if the sexual intercourse takes place five days before ovulation.

How Long Can Sperm Live Inside the Body

How Long Can Sperm Live Outside the Body?

There is no sure shot answer to this question. However, sperm can live for 20 minutes to an hour based on the environmental conditions and the air it is exposed to. Sperms are of no use when the semen dries up after ejaculation.

If you are among those couples who are NOT trying to make a baby, then there are some things you should remember. Make sure that the ejaculated semen doesn’t even go near the vagina before 20 minutes because don’t forget the sperm remains alive for 20 minutes before it pronounces itself dead. Secondly, don’t be mistaken that the natural lubricant released from the penis is safe during sex because even that lubricant can contain sperms. If withdrawal is what you depend on as a means of contraception, then these are some of the things you need to keep in mind.

When sperms are provided with an ideal condition in a laboratory under strict condition, the life of sperms stretches up to seven days. When sperm samples are kept in a sterile container, they can live for many hours. However, they start to gradually lose their fertilizing ability after an hour.

When sperm is exposed to room conditions like bed linens, toilet seats or clothing, they quickly lose their swimming abilities (motility). As soon as the semen dries, it means the sperms are not alive any more.

How Long Can Sperm Live Outside the Body

How Many Sperm Are Needed to Get Pregnant?

There is a very simple answer to that. Just ONE. Only one sperm out of 100 million sperms fertilize the egg, which means it takes just one sperm to get pregnant.

Men who ejaculate less than 20 million sperm per ml of semen are at high risk of having fertility issues.

How Many Sperm Are Needed to Get Pregnant

Then Why Do Men Ejaculate Millions of Sperms?

Now you must be wondering when it only takes one sperm to get pregnant, then why do men ejaculate millions of sperms? A large number of sperm simply means there are more chances of the egg to get fertilized. The sperm needs to cover the distance to the Fallopian tubes from the vagina and cervix. Then it needs to penetrate the wall of the egg and only a  few sperm actually live till this step.

When the sperm enters the female’s body through the sperm friendly fluid produced by the cervix which helps them to swim towards the egg, many are simply lost in the cervix. The ones who make it to the uterus are welcomed by white blood cells that consider sperms foreign entities and starts attacking them. This is when the sperms swim like crazy and make efforts to get to the Fallopian tube to save themselves from the white cells. Out of the millions released on ejaculation, only some get to reach the Fallopian tube where the egg is released. It is still not over yet. Upon reaching the Fallopian tube, the sperm needs to survive enough to come in contact with the egg and penetrate it in order to fertilize. It is thought that this process of traveling to the egg filters out the sperms that are weak and it is only the sperm that is healthiest that proves its worth by reaching and penetrating the egg, creating new life.

What Can Be Revealed Through a Semen Analysis?

A semen analysis helps to find out whether the man is fertile or infertile and if he is infertile, what is the reason behind it. The semen analysis includes a series of tests which helps to find out the quantity and quality of sperm in the semen. The patient is required to ejaculate into a cup which is then tested for the following:

  • Morphology: 200 sperm are analyzed in this test for their appearance, size and shape. Normal sperms will have long tails and an oval head which help them to swim forward. You are more likely to be fertile if most of your sperms have a normal shape and structure.
  • Quantity of sperms: Sperm concentration means the number of sperm present in semen. It is measured on the basis of millions per ml of semen. This is also known as sperm density. You are fertile if the semen discharged in a single ejaculation consist of 15million sperm per ml. Lesser sperms mean lesser candidates for fertilizing the egg and lesser chance of pregnancy.
  • Motility: Motility helps to evaluate sperm’s movement. It is denoted by the percentage of sperm which are moving. The motility must be 50%. In order to reach the egg, sperm needs to make movement. It can swim and wriggle through the vagina, cervix, uterus and then the Fallopian tubes. You are fertile if 50% of your sperms are moving.
  • Amount of sperm: Usually the normal ejaculation is about 2 to 6 ml which is equal to half to one teaspoon. If the amount happens to be less than this, it is not going to make a woman pregnant. If it is more than this, it also reduces the chances of achieving pregnancy as it makes the concentration of sperm dilute.
  • Thickness of sperm: Semen starts off thick but gets thinner as time passes. It allows the sperm to move more freely. Semen that doesn’t thin out can result in problems and complications. It usually hinders movement.

Semen Analysis

How to Improve the Health of Sperms

1. Do Exercise


According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health,  It is found that men who exercise for up to 7 hours per week tend to have 48% higher sperm count compared to guys who only exercise for less than an hour in a week.

Doing exercise outdoors is much more beneficial for guys than indoors because the exposure to sun elevates the amount of vitamin D, which in turn helps in sperm production. Generally speaking, exercise helps to produce more testosterone in the body which plays a key role in sperm production.

2. Reduce Stress

Reduce Stress

One of the key reasons for low sperm count is stress. According to an Italian study, men who had the highest level of anxiety and stress possessed low sperm count, reduced sperm movement and more chances of DNA damage. This can happen when you continuously working for long hours and not giving your body the rest it deserves.

When you are stressed out, the body produces stress hormones, which limits the production testosterone in the body responsible for producing sperm. If you happen to be extremely stressed out, your body might completely quit producing sperm.

You can try to reduce and manage stress by trying relaxation methods like doing yoga, meditation and playing some sport. It will help you relieve some stress from the body.

3. Healthy Diet

Healthy Diet

The motility (movement) of your sperms depends on the energy level of the sperms. It is this energy that helps to find out, if your sperms are going to swim or sink. This is further determined by what you eat.

  1. Avoid taking a diet that is light in plants and high in fats. Men who eat a diet high in fat have 43 percent lesser sperm count than those with a low fat intake.
  2. Take lots of antioxidant-rich foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruits. They help enhance the quality and quantity of sperm.
  3. Maintain an intake of dairy products like eggs and also eat food like fish, avocados, cashew nuts, walnuts, peanuts.
  4. Say no to soy-based food because they help to increase levels of estrogen in the body. Soy sauce and sushi dates can all affect sperm production.
  5. Lay off bacon as it decreases sperm count.

4. Take supplements

Take supplements

It is highly recommended that you take supplements that contain folic acids, and zinc sulfate which remains an important part of DNA formation along with a supplement that contains L-carnitine, which is a sperm count and motility boosting amino acid. L-carnitine is naturally found in avocados, dairy products, and fish.

Supplements containing vitamin C and Selenium also aid in increasing sperm count. You can easily increase your sperm count by 75% by regularly taking such supplements. It is best to consult a doctor before you do so.

5. Maintain a healthy weight

Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining healthy weight is crucial for healthy sperms. Both being overweight and underweight can negatively affect the health of sperms. It can tremendously affect your sex life as well, as it greatly affects a man’s performance.

What you can do is make sure you are taking a healthy diet that consists of a good balance of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, lean proteins, dairy along with exercise or physical activity for most of the week. This will help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

6. Drink Less Alcohol

Drink Less Alcohol

It is no secret that alcohol adversely affects the liver function and that estrogen although a female sex hormone also exists in men. When the liver function is affected, this leads to a rise in levels of estrogen in the body which automatically decreases levels of testosterone negatively affecting the production of sperms. This is the reason you should try to avoid alcohol if you wish good health to your sperms.

7. Sleep more

Sleep more

Men who usually suffer from sleep disturbances or lack of sleep usually have a low sperm count, smaller testicular size and low testosterone levels. Sleep helps to ward off depression, tiredness, obesity and what not, then why should infertility lag behind. Planning to go to bed a little earlier can be of great help. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep because then you will be depriving yourself of healthy sperms.

8. Quit smoking

Quit smoking

You sure you want to have 22% lesser sperms than other fellow men? Of course not, right! Then quit smoking because if you happen to be either a marijuana smoker or simply a cigarette smoker who is hooked to it, then you are very much likely to have lesser sperm count than what’s considered normal.


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Salwa Ahmed
Salwa Ahmed is a professional writer who writes for several blogs and magazines. She writes about various topics from Health and Beauty to Fashion and Technology. You can learn more about her, follow her on Twitter or Facebook.