How long does sperm live outside the body?
The female body is tricky but what about the men? Trying to get pregnant can be a daunting task as a couple and getting sperm into the female reproductive tract isn't always easy. There are so many things to think about, and it can be difficult to know where to start.
In this blog, we focus on sperm and take a look at the count, quality, tips for improving production, and health and lifestyle factors to consider when trying to conceive.
A semen analysis looks at several factors for determining normal fertility and how long sperm live outside the body. The guidelines, established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010, analyze semen based on the following criteria:
- Concentration – 15 million per ml or 39 million in the entire sample.
- Volume – 1.5ml on average.
- Motility – At least 32% of progressively motile sperm.
- Viability – Greater than 58% living sperm per sample.
- Morphology – At least 4% normal shaped sperm.
- Liquefaction – Semen stays in liquid form for 60 minutes after ejaculation.
- Viscosity – Too thick of a sample could indicate a problem with the prostate.
- Color – Opalescent, slightly yellow color.
- pH level – above 7.1 *Lower values might indicate azoospermia or no level of measurable sperm in the semen.
- Leukocytes – Less than 1 million per ml of sample. A greater number could indicate infection.
- Antisperm antibodies – Less than 50%; anything greater suggests an immune disorder.
What most men (and women) may not realize about a semen analysis report is that it is just a snapshot of the overall picture.
There is so much more to be said about sperm quality and men’s health in general. An abnormal semen analysis is a clue that something needs to change, be it diet, bad habits, or a correctable medical condition like a scrotal varicocele.
Sperm count and sperm production what should it be for optimum male fertility?
Normal semen contains 40 million to 300 million sperm per milliliter means healthy sperm.
A low sperm count is considered to be anything between 10 and 20 million sperm per milliliter.
Twenty million sperm per milliliter may be adequate for pregnancy if the sperm are healthy.
Factors that can help with creating healthy sperm, good sperm production, and helping sperm survive longer
1) Make her happy in bed when having sexual intercourse! Though a woman doesn't have to climax to get pregnant, the movement of her orgasm can help propel sperm closer to their destination and this will increase her chances of getting pregnant.
2) Being at an ideal weight and having a healthy lifestyle. Being too heavy or too thin could lower your fertility.
3) Quitting smoking. Smoking increases the odds of infertility and miscarriage and reduces sperm motility.
4) Caffeine intake. In large amounts — more than five cups of coffee a day — caffeine can lower fertility.
5) Your phone generates heat so avoid putting your cell phone next to your testicles (in your pocket) and try and cool down when you can at home by removing your jeans/trousers and letting them cool down naturally.
6) Make sure to use a fertility-friendly lubricant during sex and have unprotected sex if trying for a baby.
7) Avoid using a hot tub.
Eat a healthy diet such as:
-fruits and veggies
-eggs are one of the healthy options is to increase the quality and quantity of sperm.
-walnuts are another great source of healthy fat and protein.
-carrots have nutrients that may help to increase sperm count.
Male fertility - being at your healthiest when trying for a baby
Exercise is important for male fertility, too. But activity should be moderate. Intense exercise, and cycling, in particular, may reduce sperm count rather than increase it.
Regular exercise that is gentle is best. Perhaps you both could take up Yoga together?
Other good exercise tips which will help to combat male infertility are:
By regulating hormones and decreasing fat storage, men not only improve their fertility but cardiovascular health as well.
Weight resistance or cardiovascular exercises are most recommended for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and boosting fertility.
Exercises like competitive cycling and triathlons should be practiced in moderation to avoid prostate irritation, lower testosterone production, and physical stress on the body.
More obvious forms of protecting fertility are important too, like wearing an athletic cup during high contact sport, avoiding sauna, no hot tub, or upgrading to a better-quality bicycle seat, that keeps anatomy and fertility in mind.
Do recreational drugs or over-the-counter drugs affect sperm function?
Yes, it can. Some recreational drugs are known to damage sperm quality and reduce male fertility. These include cannabis cocaine and anabolic steroids You should avoid taking these types of drugs if you're trying for a baby.
Also, some prescription medicines and medicines you buy from a pharmacy can also affect male fertility. For example, some chemotherapy medicines can affect fertility, either temporarily or permanently.
Additionally, long-term use of some antibiotics can also affect both sperm quality and quantity. But these effects are usually reversed 3 months after stopping the medicine.
Speak to a healthcare professional about your medical history, or a pharmacist if you are concerned.
Does stress affect sperm and what about other lifestyle factors that can also affect sperm quality?
Multiple scientific studies over the past 20 years have revealed possible links between psychological stress and infertility.
Studies found that men who feel stressed are more likely to experience decreased testosterone, lower sperm count, abnormal sperm production, and decreased sperm motility, the function that allows sperm to move. And all of this can negatively affect overall fertility.
Other lifestyle factors that can affect sperm quality and sperm quantity and how long sperm can survive:
While you’re trying to conceive, you may want to avoid anything that can raise the temperature of your groin, such as:
- sitting still for long periods of time, particularly when driving long distances
- hot baths and saunas
- using a laptop on your lap
- wearing tight underwear
- avoid hot tubs
How often should you have sex to produce healthy sperm?
The body needs anything between 24-36 hours for creating more sperms. So apparently, frequent sex can lower sperm count.
But here's a catch, fresher the sperm, higher the motility! Fresh sperms are more live and have higher motility improving fertility.
So, if you are trying to conceive, having sex every 2-3 days is good for you. This way, fresh sperms are available for the ovum and it can lead to higher chances of conception. Also, having sex days before ovulation is an added advantage as it improves fertility to a great extent.
How long does sperm lives while frozen? Sperm that has been collected by a doctor and frozen can live indefinitely under proper conditions. A 2019 study published in Fertility and Sterility analyzed 119,558 semen samples from young adult men kept in cryostorage between six months and 15 years. The survival rate of previously frozen sperm if sperm are exposed to air typically dies within half an hour. If it's being frozen with liquid nitrogen, it can last years (more on that below)
What happens when sex becomes infrequent?
When sperms are stored inside the body for too long, it causes damage to DNA. Sperms in the body are too sensitive to heat and exposure. When released after a long time, their mobility is affected by heat and radiation.
As a result, the sperms released are of an abnormal shape, low in count, and have low mobility which together contributes to sperm abnormalities and male infertility.
Advice from us for a healthy pregnancy
When trying to conceive, it's easy to focus on just the female half but men are important too (obvs!). Follow the above tips and eat for baby, look after yourself, focus on getting and staying at a healthy weight and consider using a testing kit for testing your sperm count and quality at home.
Couples that have tried without success through natural fertility to conceive should see a fertility specialist. About 20% of infertility cases are due to a male factor alone. Another 30% involves both male and female factors.
When should you see a doctor?
If you've been trying to get pregnant but are having no luck for 6 months or more, see your healthcare professional or a fertility specialist.
If you are trying to time ovulation with increased sperm count, check out our monitors OvuSense and OvuFirst which are both highly accurate and the best in their class for tracking ovulation. If you have any concerns, get in touch with your healthcare professional.
Wishing you so much luck!