How long can sperm survive?

Here’s a frequently pondered question, from as far back as teenage years: “How long can sperm survive?” It still remains confusing for many. But understanding more about this topic can help you to conceive. For example, knowing how long sperm can last in the female reproductive system can help you to time when you try for a baby, which can make all the difference.

Let’s take a look at how long sperm can survive in different situations. sperm length of life

How long does sperm live for inside a woman’s body?

Many people assume that sperm can’t live very long once ejaculated. But actually, sperm can live for up to five days in the female reproductive system. Knowing this can help you with timing when you’re trying for a baby, as you can concentrate your efforts on the most fertile days, and this includes the days before ovulation.

If you know when your partner is due to ovulate, then you could have sex a few days before and it still could result in a pregnancy. Many couples think they know the moment they conceived, but actually, it’s really rare to be able to pinpoint an exact time as sperm can keep trying to fertilise the egg for days! 

The number of days that the sperm survives in a woman depends a number of factors:

  • The consistency of cervical mucus. The cervical mucus thins during ovulation — changing from opaque to clear — offering a good environment and protection for the sperm. 
  • The point in the menstrual cycle (if the time is right, the sperm could last up to five days).
  • Cervical ‘crypts,’ small channels off the cervical canal, providing temporary storage areas for sperm. The channels cleverly release sperm over time, increasing that ‘fertile window’.

How long can sperm survive outside the body?

Sperm are unlikely to last more than an hour outside the body, even in a body-temperature environment. Humidity is one of the biggest things to affect sperm survival. Semen is a mixture of sperm in seminal fluid that carries the sperm, protecting and nourishing them. So once the seminal fluid has evaporated, there is nothing to keep the sperm safe.

In water

Sperm need very specific conditions to survive, including the right pH and the right temperature. In plain, warm, bath water with no bubble bath, salts or soap, sperm might survive for a few minutes, but pregnancy is extremely unlikely to occur without intercourse. Sperm would certainly die within seconds in a hot tub or a chlorinated swimming pool. 

On skin

It is possible that if sperm is ejaculated near to the vulva they could make their way to the vagina and result in pregnancy, but once the semen has dried on the skin it cannot fertilise an egg – even if it becomes wet again in the shower.

How long does sperm survive in the testicles?

If you’re trying to conceive, it’s best to have sex every one to two days during the fertile window. This is because testicles are continually producing sperm, but the quality of sperm decreases the longer it is stored in the testicles. After seven days, sperm motility decreases and after just five days mitochondrial damage and DNA fragmentation increases. The production of takes around 72 days. Once sperm are mature they are stored in the testicles for weeks and, if not ejaculated, they are reabsorbed into the body.  

How long can sperm survive when frozen?

Freezing your sperm can protect its quality. Using a special freezing technique of medical cryopreservation, the sperm is cleaned, mixed with cryoprotectant, frozen using liquid nitrogen and then stored.  Sperm can be stored for up to 55 years and still be able to fertilise an egg, but the usual period of storage is 10 years. This is very different to your everyday household refrigerator and must be carried out in specialist clinics.

Improving sperm motility and the quality of DNA

Impryl is a supplement which can help improve your sperm and enhance the quality of DNA inside the sperm head. Impryl achieves this by delivering balanced support to your metabolism with activated micronutrients. It can take 3 to 4 months for sperm to develop so if you are considering freezing your sperm and want to produce the best quality possible, start taking Impryl 3 months before you undergo the freezing procedure.  This guarantees that your sperm will receive the benefits of Impryl right from the start and throughout the spermatogenesis, the sperm production process..

Read about how Impryl has helped others here.

Other interesting topics