How Long Does Sperm Live Inside And Outside The Body?

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How Long Can Sperm Live?

Once sperms enter a woman's body, many dry out, dying within minutes. Most last for 2 days max. Some sperms, however, live for 3–5 days if the environment is alkaline and moist, as during ovulation, and up to 7 days in the fallopian tube. But if they dry out or interact with soaps or hot water, they can die within seconds. Outside the body, sperms live for just a few minutes to a couple hours.

Getting pregnant can be tricky. Sometimes, you might need to  track your ovulation to get things right. But it doesn’t just depend on one partner. How long the sperm lives inside the female body can be a major game changer, even if parenthood isn’t on your agenda. For example, what happens if a man ejaculates near a woman’s anus and semen seeps into the vagina? What about semen on clothing or in the bath? Is there a risk of pregnancy in such cases? The key to figuring it out comes down to knowing the answer to the question: how long can sperm live?

Sperm Lives About 1–2 Days Inside The Female Body

Once the sperm has entered a woman’s vagina, it can survive in the body for a maximum of 24 to 48 hours, though many sperms die within minutes of entering the vagina. During this time, it has the ability to impregnate the woman.1

But It Can Live For About 3–5 Days During Ovulation

However, the American Pregnancy Association shares that sperms might live even longer if they are in a favorable environment. For instance, in a place that is moist and warm, they might hang around for 3 to 5 days.

Sperms need moist environment. They dry out quickly. Since ovulation keeps your vagina and cervix moist, sperms survive longer during this period.

This usually happens when there’s enough cervical fluid or mucus to provide the sperms with nutrition – that is closer to ovulation. In fact, cervical fluid is a reliable indicator of ovulation and can help you plan your pregnancy. However, do note that sperms living for 5 days is a rarity.

But when there’s no cervical fluid and sperms dry up, they die completely. Re-adding moisture won’t revive them, either.2 So, if sperms linger in the vagina without shimmying up to the upper reproductive tract, they’ll probably last just a few hours.

In Rare Cases, It Can Live For 7 Days In The Fallopian Tube

But, in very rare cases, if they end up in the right place – like the fallopian tubes – they can live as long as 7 days. From there, a woman can get pregnant if she has already ovulated. The same goes if she ovulates while the sperm is alive and it manages to penetrate the egg.3

Acidity can also play a role. While the vagina is usually quite acidic, cervical mucus released during ovulation is alkaline. An alkaline environment makes it easy for the sperm to survive. But when there’s little to no cervical mucus, the sperm might last for just a few minutes to a maximum of 48 hours.4

To sum up:

If you’re not ovulating, sperms lingering in the vagina last just a few hours. During ovulation, they can live for up to 5 days in the vagina and as long as 7 days in the fallopian tube.

Sperm Lives For A Few Minutes Outside The Body

When it comes to clothing and other surfaces, the fate of the sperm is a different story. You might be surprised to learn how short-lived it can be. Unlike the human body – which is warm and moist – the environment outside of it isn’t welcoming. Survival can be tough. And once the semen dries out, the sperm loses life and cannot revived.5

Survival time can range from a few minutes to a couple hours, depending on the environment’s dryness and hostility. To put things into perspective, survival is rarely beyond a few minutes on dry sheet or clothing. And since semen dries quickly, the lack of moisture instantly kills the sperm.

It Can Last Slightly Longer In Warm Baths

How about warm baths? Sperms might last a little longer here. But when other substances are in the water, they will eventually die from osmotic shock – a rapid change in the fluid concentration within the sperm cell. Detergent and soap can totally remove their cell membranes, causing them to explode. So, even when sperms are moist, the odds are stacked against them when these chemicals are around. They will die almost immediately in these conditions.6

It Can Live For 5 Days In A Lab Setting

In a lab environment, experts can help the sperm survive longer – 5 days or more. This can be done by removing it from semen and placing it in a humid and warm environment, an ideal scenario for the sperm’s survival. Sperm frozen for in vitro fertilization, however, can last a very long time.

To sum up:

While sperms last for 5 days in a special lab environment, they dry up and die within a few minutes to a couple hours outside the body. Plain water keeps them alive slightly longer, but soap water kills them right away.

How To Make The Sperm Live Longer?

While it may not be possible to ensure that your sperm lives longer inside the female body, you can increase your sperm volume and boost your sperm health. Healthier sperm have a better chance of survival and of impregnating. From using therapeutic herbs to changing certain lifestyle factors, follow these 7 tips to make your sperm healthy.

References   [ + ]

1.Dr. Lindemann’s Fun Sperm Facts!. Oakland University.
2.Can Pregnancy Occur if…? Pregnancy Myths Cleared Up!. American Pregnancy Association.
3.Getting Pregnant. NHS.
4.Reproduction, Marquette University.
5.Can Pregnancy Occur if…? Pregnancy Myths Cleared Up!. American Pregnancy Association.
6.Mechanisms of Sperm Motility: Dr. Charles Lindemann, FAQ. Oakland University.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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