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Sperm: 10 Interesting Facts Everyone Should Know

Sperm: 10 Interesting Facts Everyone Should Know

We all know that sperm are necessary for creating another human being, but sometimes they don’t get enough credit for their role. Maybe it is because the woman is the one who is responsible for carrying a new child within her body for the first months of its life. The reality is though, half of the genetic code of a child is carried within a man’s sperm. There are many interesting facts about sperm that can help a person recognize how important they are to creating a healthy child. Take some time to appreciate the role they play in creating life.

1. Sperm Responds to the Food a Man Eats

Food Choices Impact Sperm HealthSeveral studies reveal that a man’s sperm responds and is impacted by what he eats. What a man eats daily plays a very important role in the health of their sperm.

DHA found in Omega-3 essential fatty acid, found in foods like Alaskan wild salmon and cod liver oil, has been shown to play a critical role in proper formation of sperm. A study published in The Journal of Biology and Reproduction, 2011, found that DHA can improve sperm morphology. A round-headed sperm can become a healthy, cone shaped head, full of important egg-opening enzymes once again, when DHA levels are increased. DHA also plays a role in sperm motility. An increase in DHA levels has shown to play a role in the fluidity for sperm tail bending and flexing required for forward movement of sperm.

Another study showed that men who consumed 3 or more cups of coffee per day had reduced sperm concentration and total sperm count, as well as lower sperm quality.

Vitamin C has been shown to improve sperm quality and protect sperm from DNA damage; helping to reduce and chromosomal problems that could lead to miscarriages. Vitamin C also appears to keep sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.

Another study, published by Fertility and Sterility, 11/10/2011, showed that men who ate more whole grain cereals (wheat, barley, oats) had higher sperm concentration and motility. The same study showed that consumption of fresh fruit gave sperm a boost in speed and agility.

2. Men Need to Regularly Climax for Healthy Sperm

Infrequent ejaculation or sexual abstinence can lead to oxidative stress due to reduction in semen turn-over. This means that the sperm stay in the gonads longer and therefore are exposed to reactive oxygen species, leukocytes or other toxic substances which can damage them. One study showed that men who ejaculated 4 or more times per month, had better sperm morphology.

3. Sperm are Susceptible to Damage from Wireless Technology

In 2012, Fertility and Sterility published findings of a study on the impact of wireless devices such as laptop computers and mobile phones. Researchers wanted to find out if laptop computers Wi-Fi connection played a role in decreasing sperm health alone. In the past it was believed that the heat alone from a laptop computer may cause adverse effects to sperm health, but this new study shows that laptop computers connected to the internet through Wi-Fi damaged sperm through a non-thermal effect.

Scientists have suggested this may be due to radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (RF-EMW) as free-radicals. Free-radicals cause oxidative damage to our cells, including sperm and female eggs. Free-radical damage may cause sperm immotility, cell death and lower the integrity of the DNA. It appears men should avoid holding laptops directly on their laps, and keep cell phones away from pants’ pockets.

4. Progesterone Gives Sperm Extra Energy to Penetrate the Egg

Sperm-eggConsidering the size of sperm, they have a great journey to meet up with the female egg in the fallopian tube. One can imagine the incredible energy that must be used for this journey. That is only half the battle for a sperm to create life though. Once to the egg, also known as the ova, they work to penetrate it. Whipping their tails frantically seems like it would be very tiring, but that is where progesterone comes in. Sperm get a boost of energy from a burst of female progesterone, which encourages sperm to whip their tails more passionately. This helps a sperm to penetrate the egg.

Why does the sperm respond to the burst of progesterone? Well, in 2011 researchers discovered that a protein called catsper within sperm cells receives the signal from the release of progesterone. A perfect example of “working together.”

5. Sperm Have a Superhero-Like Power

Sperm can melt the surface of the female egg. They do this by releasing enzymes from a portion of the head known as the acrosome, to dissolve the outer membrane of the egg. This helps the sperm to burrow through the egg wall. The sperm plasma then fuses with the plasma membrane of the egg. At this time,the sperm head disconnects from the tail and conception of a new life occurs.

6. Sperm Have “Body Guards”

Sperm look very different than any other cell in a man’s body. It is true they are shaped that way to help them get where they need to go, but they are also shaped that way because they only carry half as much DNA as other cells in the male body. Because of this the immune system sees them as a foreign invader. Specialized cells in the testicles protect sperm cells, creating a barrier from immune system cells which would otherwise attack and harm them. It is common for this barrier to be broken and sperm to be damaged in as many as 70% of all vasectomy patients.

7. Sperm Live for Days

According to a study published in Biology of Reproduction (1984), sperm can live for up to 5 days inside of a woman, under the right conditions. More commonly though, sperm live about 2 days, so be realistic in your timing if you are trying to conceive!

8. Some Like it Hot, Sperm Like it Cold

The testicles are about 7 degrees fahrenheit cooler than the rest of the body. Healthier sperm need to stay cooler than the rest of the body. The testicles work much like a refrigerator, creating a heat exchange from incoming and outgoing blood vessels.

There are some men in the world who heat their testicles above 108 degrees Fahrenheit in order to make themselves sterile. Yes, this is actually a male contraception method, though it sounds awful.

9. Poor Lifestyle Choices Negatively Impact Sperm Health

Bad Habits Lower Male FertilityMen who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, consume caffeine and/or are obese have lowered fertility due to a negative impact on sperm health according an influential 2012 Austrian study published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology analyzed the sperm of 1683 patients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Men who used nicotine regularly were shown to have poor sperm morphology and motility. Studies found little difference in how much nicotine was used daily, just that any use at all had an increased chance of a negative impact.

Men who drink alcohol regularly also have lower sperm motility and concentration.

Men with a BMI of 25 or greater were shown to have significantly more immotile sperm than men with a BMI less than 25. Obese men also have slower sperm and lower concentration of sperm than non-obese men.

10. Relatively Quick Turnover: The Lifespan of Sperm

Studies show a range of 42 to 76 days from the time of sperm production, through maturation, to ejaculation. The good news about sperm is that they are constantly being produced, unlike female eggs. This renewal system allows men a great chance to improve sperm health and count over a few months’ time. While some sperm are ready-to-go, others are just in the beginning stages of formation. On top of that, this renewal system lasts for a lifetime in most men. As a man ages, their sperm health and count may decline, but it never stops. This is why men can father children at a much older age than a woman can.


Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull is a University-trained Obstetrician/Gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She delivered over 2000 babies and specializes in gynecologic diseases such as menstrual disorders, infertility diagnosis and treatment especially pertaining to tubal blockage and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Dr. Langdon is the inventor of 6 patent pending medical devices, and attended Ohio State University from 1987-1995 receiving her Medical Doctorate Degree (M.D.) with Honors in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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  1. Avatar

    this was helpful for my reasearch thanks

  2. Avatar

    Thanks for the good article.It is really impressive.sperm is of many good health benefits.less people are aware of it.
    and poor lifestyle surely has a negative consequences to sperm quality of a person.
    facts like Sperm Have a Superhero-Like Power are interesting to know,
    thank you
    have a nice day.

  3. Avatar

    I am male and had azoospermia/ no sperm seen on semen analysis. Very worried because I am the person in a family and desperately need children as replacement in my generation. Please I need urgent help with advice and anything possible. Besides, my country is under develop thus any artificial means to get my wife pregnant will be hard. Please advise me other means.
    Waiting to hear from you soon.
    May God richly bless you

  4. Avatar

    Very informative post. In fact healthy sperm is necessary for successful pregnancy. Sperm is one of most important factor to measure fertility. Low sperm count,motility and morphology relate with infertility.

  5. Avatar

    Hello mam Elizabeth Willett. I have Problem when i awake in morning little sperm type water comes from my penis know iam to much affriad so plz help me what can i do know.

  6. Avatar

    My doctor thinks I can’t get a woman pregnant due to treatments for lymphoma but I’m with someone and I’m worried that she could get pregnant because I’m pretty sure that my diet could change my sperm count. However right now I have breathing problems, hair loss, constipation and other problems but I think that may change soon when I stop drinking coffee, get more exercise, eat at better times, rest better, etc. My question is do you think at this point it may be over 95% unlikely for my gf to get pregnant at least until beating this constipation issue more than 7 days in a row? I know I need to see a doctor but I’m pretty sure they won’t believe that my diet could change anything.

    • Hello!

      If you are worried you could get your girlfriend pregnant, it would be best to use some form of protection during intercourse and avoid having unprotected intercourse during her fertile window, which are the two days prior to, day of and even the day after she ovulates. There is no evidence that I know of that being constipated prevents ejaculation or would prevent conception.

      I do hope that if you have testing you learn dietary changes have impacted sperm health. That would be fantastic if you wish to father a child one day.

      Feel better soon!

    • Avatar

      I’ve read that many diseases are linked to a lack of good bowel movements hence my problems with constipation. And I read one testimonial of someone that ate fresh milled wheat to recover from cancer and regain his ability to father children. He actually recovered and later fathered 11 children. I know it has affected me too because I began to breathe a little bit better after a couple really good bowel movements (sorry if TMI) but I’ve lapsed and I need to put more effort into it. Others have noted a difference in 2 weeks or less by eating fresh wheat. That’s why I’m worried about my sperm maturing quickly.
      Anyway thanks for your time. I appreciate your reply.

  7. Avatar

    How can I release my sperm in vagina. I’m not able to release inside, but after doing hand job I can release easily outside vagina. Please help me and also it will take more time for releasing.

  8. Avatar

    I am unmarried, but lot of times sperm will release and sometime I can’t control it… after I see a lady and if I touch also.

  9. Avatar

    This is a very helpful website and resourceful,i appreciate it much so!

  10. Avatar

    In regards to Item #4, how do men use progesterone creme? Or, should they?

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH


      When sperm is inside of the vaginal canal, headed to the uterus and beyond, the woman’s progesterone increase gives the sperm a boost. Men don’t need to supplement with progesterone cream for this to occur.

  11. Avatar

    good and helpful information to me, thnks

  12. Avatar

    Hi- Could you please share the science behind keeping sperm cool? Im specifically wondering about hot tub use while trying to conceive. Is it best for men to avoid the hot tub completely while trying to conceive? I’d love to actually see the science behind it. Thanks a ton.

    • Hi Deena,

      I don’t think taking an occasional dip in a hot tub, even 1 time a week is going to be detrimental to sperm production, unless the count was very low. In the case of very low sperm count, it would be best for the male partner to avoid hot tubs during a woman’s most fertile time (when you would be trying for baby).

      Learn more about the “science” behind it here: