How Long Can Sperm Live Inside the Body?


Whether you are trying to get pregnant or want to avoid fertilization, you need to know how long sperm can live outside of the body. For pregnancy to occur, you would need to have an environment that is prepared for a pregnancy, motile sperm and an egg. To get these factors, you will need to know how long sperm can be alive outside of the woman’s or man’s body.

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How Long do Sperm Live Within the Body?

Initially, sperm are deposited within the woman’s vagina. Once they have been deposited, the sperm immediately start to swim toward the cervix and into the uterus. The woman’s body produces a type of cervical mucous that is designed to aid this swimming during the most fertile times. When she is about to ovulate, her cervical mucous will have a higher acidity and temperature that is just right for the sperm to move. When the environment within her vagina is just right, the sperm can live for up to five days. In general, sperm will normally end up dying within the first day or two of being in the woman’s body.

Consider the Circumstances

When and where the sperm are left is the main factor in determining how long the sperm will live. If the sperm does not make it past the vagina, it will most likely die within the next few bodies. Outside of the human body, the sperm exists in an extremely hostile environment, so it is only able to last for a few minutes.

Sperm require moisture and warmth in order to stay alive. If they are in a dry or cold environment, they will die faster. Generally, sperm that has dried outside of the human body will already be dead. In warm bath water, sperm may be able to live for a while, but the woman is still unlikely to become pregnant. Substances like soap or shampoo in the bath water make it harder for the sperm to live. In addition, the water is extremely diluted, so the chances of the sperm reaching the woman’s body alive are extremely slim. It is still possible, but not particularly likely.

What Quantity of Sperm Is Required to Get Pregnant?

In general, the average, healthy man will have about 100 million sperm in every ejaculation. Although there are 100 million sperm present in his semen, they are unlikely to reach the egg. They must first travel through the vagina, the cervix, the uterus and the Fallopian tubes before they can meet up with the egg. Once their, the sperm has to be healthy enough to penetrate the egg’s membrane. Although it only takes one sperm to get a woman pregnant, it is extremely difficult for that sperm to make it there.

How Long Will an Egg Survive?

Unlike sperm, an egg is released just once a month. It leaves the ovary during ovulation and travels down the Fallopian tube. Afterward, it only has a 12 to 24 hour window to become fertilized. If the egg is not fertilized during this time period, it will ultimately die. As long as a live sperm enters the egg at this time—and the sperm could have been deposited up to five days ago–, the woman will become pregnant.


Getting Pregnant

Each month, women have about a one in four chance of getting pregnant if they are not using protection. Sperm can live for up to five days in the body, so any sperm within the preceding days before ovulation could get the woman pregnant. Once the woman has ovulated, her chances of getting pregnant decrease drastically within one day.


Improving the Health of Your Sperm

When it is time for you and your partner to become pregnant, you can naturally increase your chances by making sure that your body has healthier sperm. The following tips are designed to give you the best chance possible for becoming pregnant.

1. Exercise

For men, exercise will increase the testosterone levels and insure that you body is working properly. Testosterone is a necessary requirement for making sperm, so exercising can ensure that you are able to make motile, healthy sperm. You can talk to your doctor about the exercises that work the best, but keep in mind that you should avoid anabolic steroids. Since anabolic steroids harm sperm production and decrease your testicles’ size, they are one of the worst things that you can do if you want healthy sperm.

2. Quit Smoking

You knew that smoking was bad for your health, but did you also know that it can hurt your sperm production? A smoking habit will cause your sperm to move slower. It can increase the number of deformities in your sperm and limit their motility.

3. Avoid Toxins

From chemicals to other toxins, environmental pollutants can effect your sperm. Use natural cleaning products at home and always make sure to use protective clothing when you are working with chemicals.

4. Limit Your Stress

Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic reported that stress can actually limit your sperm production. Relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing can help you to lower stress. In addition, sleep may help to block some of the effects of stress. If you live a stressed out life, it could be harming the way testosterone is produced and regulated within your body.

5. Eat a Balanced Diet

Make sure that you are consuming a diet righ in fruits and vegetables. Healthy sources of protein, eggs, fish and whole grain food will help you to increase your sperm count. You will want to avoid high fructose corn syrup and sugary foods because they could cause insulin resistance and a lower sperm count. In addition, you should avoid soy products and caffeinated beverages.

6. Avoid Alcohol

It seems ironic that alcohol would limit sperm when so many “accidents” occur under the influence. Despite this irony, alcohol can seriously affect your sperm count. It causes liver problems, increased estrogen levels and lower testosterone. All of these factors together make alcohol limit your sperm count and make your chances of getting pregnant less likely.