What does sperm look like?


downloadMany people are confused or want to know answers related to a lot of questions arising in their mind about sperms. Some of these questions are like how many sperms does a man produces per day, how do sperms know which direction to go in order to conjoin the egg or how do sperms spin to the egg cells, what does a sperm look like or what is difference between semen and sperm, etc.

Many such questions crop up in the minds of people. However, now you can get the answers to all these questions in this article. Just read on to find out the answers to such frequent questions related to sperm.

Sperm vs. semen

Many people confuse sperm and semen and often use these terms interchangeably. Nonetheless, you would be surprised to know that sperm and semen are actually different things. They are not the same. Semen is the white or grey colored liquid that is ejaculated through the urethra. In this liquid, there are sperms or spermatozoa.

Technically, one million sperms are found in one milliliter of semen. The secretion from the male glands majorly ejaculates semen. And, the main difference between sperm and semen is that sperm are actual sex cells and semen is the liquid that has sperm. However, for human reproduction both semen and sperm are necessary.

Furthermore, sperm are the reproductive cells that are present in the male human body. These sperm combine with the female reproductive cells while the fertilization process takes places. These human sperm are haploid. This means that one sperm includes half the chromosomes of a typical cell. The sperm and a haploid egg merge together in order to produce a diploid cell that has 46 chromosomes.

How does sperm look like?

Sperm are produced in testes and mature fully within a few months. They consist of three regions, including a midpiece, a tail, and a head. The midpiece consists of organelles that give energy to the sperm. The tail helps in facilitating locomotion within the viscous semen. And, the head comprises of genetic materials with a unique design, which helps it in breaking through a female egg.

The measurement of sperm cells is nearly 0.002 inches, 0.05 millimeter, or 50 micrometers from its tail to head. Also, the sperm cannot be seen without a microscope. On the other hand, a female egg is 30 times bigger as compared to a sperm and is visible with naked eyes.

So, how does a sperm really looks like? The head of a normal human sperm is in the shape of an egg. It has smooth edges, with a length and width of 4 microns and 2 microns respectively. The acrosome of sperm does not have any vacuoles. The total length of its tail and neck is approximately 45 microns. Its tail that is slim and long does not have any curls or kinks. However, abnormal sperm has some defects in its head, such as water drop-shaped, asymmetric, large, flat, round heads, etc. Its neck abnormalities include broken necks and cytoplasmic droplets and tail defects include curled or split tails and tail absence.

How does semen look like?

Semen is a white, grey and at times yellowish substance. Pink or red semen means that it comprises of blood. This type of semen is often seen in men that have health complications. Men who have bloodstained semen should consult a doctor as soon as possible. Semen clots right after ejaculation, thus forming a sticky, jelly-like liquid. Then, it liquefies after 5 to 40 minutes.

Semen can also form jelly-like globules that do not indicate any health or fertility issues. Nevertheless, failure to liquefy and clot can result in infertility. In every ejaculation, there is about 2 to 5 ml of semen. However, if the semen is ejaculated in higher volume that is above 5.5 ml or in lower volume that is below 1.5 ml, then it is not normal. These types of sperm are called hyperspermia and hypospermia correspondingly. The former one, which is hyperspermia, is linked to prolonged abstinence and the latter one, which is hypospermia, is a result of very frequent ejaculation.

Some FAQs about sperm

Apart from the question as to what does a sperm or semen look like, let us look at some other frequently asked questions about sperm.

  1. How many sperm can make a woman pregnant?

Pregnancy can be achieved with just one sperm through which an egg can be fertilized. This indicates that while one sperm fertilizes an egg, other millions of sperm do not reach the egg. It is calculated that in an average ejaculation, nearly 100 million sperm are discharged. However, men who release less than 20 million sperm per one milliliter of semen can have infertility problems.Journey_Of_Sperm-06

Although only one sperm can make a woman pregnant, the process requires millions of sperm to be discharged. This is because semen moves to the fallopian tube from the vagina in order to combine with the egg. And, in this long journey only some sperm survive. Even when the sperm reaches the fallopian tube, it is not guaranteed that the sperm would be able to penetrate the waiting egg. The egg has a thick layer due to which penetration becomes difficult. Therefore, only the healthiest sperm is able to penetrate and fertilize the egg, in turn improving the chances of a woman of producing a healthy offspring.

  1. How long can a sperm live?

A sperm’s lifespan depends on numerous factors. However, the main factor is its location. A sperm can dry right away after the semen dries on a dry surface, like clothing or bedding. Sperm flourishes in warm and wet environments. Therefore, it tends to live longer in a warm or hot bath. Nevertheless, the chances are very low of a sperm that is in a bathtub to swim and go into the body of a female bather and thus make her pregnant. A sperm can live for nearly 5 days inside the body of a woman as per the conditions. As a result, a woman can get pregnant by having unprotected sex one or two days before her ovulation starts.

  1. How a man can improve his sperm health?

Many men want to know as to how they can develop the health of their sperm. To this, the answer is that anything that can improve the health of a man can improve his sperm’s health. This includes:

  • A healthy weight and diet
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Avoiding illicit drugs like cigarettes and steroids
  • Protecting the scrotum from too much heat by avoiding restrictive and tight pants, hot tubs and baths, and substituting briefs with boxers
  • Avoiding toxins, such as pesticides and heavy metals
  1. How a sperm knows its path?

Scientists say that sperm cells use several kinds of mechanisms in order to search for a waiting egg. They swim towards where the chemotaxis concentration is high, which are the molecules discharged by the egg. Sperm also swim towards the areas with thermotaxis or high temperatures in the reproductive tract of a woman, where the eggs are situated.

  1. Can production of sperms stop with age?

The fertility of men can continue through their lifetime as opposed to the fertility of women, which ends at menopause. Men can produce sperm in their old age also, but at a reduced rate. This means that old men can still produce children.


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