How Long Do Sperm Live?

Graphic depicting a dead sperm cell.

What is the Life Span of Sperm?

Having healthy sperm is essential for fathering a child. Beginning at puberty, the two testicles (or testes) start to produce sperm. This is a process known as spermatogenesis, which takes approximately 74-90 days to fully complete.

This means that sperm live in the testicles for up to 3 months if not ejaculated. After that, the sperm cells die off and get absorbed into the body.

On average, a man can produce sperm at a rate of 1,500 per minute, which amounts to 200-300 million sperm cells being produced per day. However, only half of these sperm will be viable.

As long as a man has a supply of healthy sperm he will remain fertile.

Life Cycle of Sperm

It is important to understand how sperm is produced in the body and released in order to understand its life cycle.

The seminiferous tubules in the testes of a boy at birth contain simple round cells. During puberty, these cells later develop into sperms having tails, heads, and mid-sections.

The sperm then swim from out of the tubules into the epididymis. The sperm continues to develop within the epididymis for the next 2-4 weeks. After that they move into the vas deferens (or sperm duct) where they are mixed with seminal fluid to make semen.

This entire process is called spermatogenesis.

When a man experiences an orgasm as a result of sexual stimulation, the semen is expelled from the body via the urethra. A man can ejaculate 500 million sperm cells during each ejaculation, on average.

The sperm will attempt to fertilize an egg if it enters a woman’s vagina. The sperm can survive for as much as 5 days inside a woman’s vagina, but only for a few minutes if it remains exposed to the open environment.

The sperm remains in the body of the man for approximately 74-120 days if it is not ejaculated. The sperm cells then die and become absorbed by the body.

What Does This Mean for Fertility?

A man who is trying to get his partner pregnant should not ejaculate for at least a few days prior to having sexual intercourse. This will increase the number of sperm in your semen and boost your odds of conceiving.

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