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How long does male sperm last?

The lifespan of sperm inside the male body is an important factor in male fertility. Understanding how long sperm can survive can help men optimize their chances of conceiving with a partner.

How sperm production works

Sperm production starts in the testicles. Sperm cells develop through a process called spermatogenesis which takes around 64-72 days. Once sperm cells are fully developed, they leave the testicles and enter the epididymis, a coiled tube attached to the testicles.

Here, the sperm continue to mature and gain the ability to swim. They can be stored here for up to 6 weeks. When a man ejaculates, the sperm cells mix with fluids from the prostate and seminal vesicles to create semen. They travel through the vas deferens and urethra before exiting the penis.

Lifespan of sperm inside the male body

The full lifespan of sperm starts from development in the testicles to ejaculation. Here is an overview:

  • Spermatogenesis: 64-72 days
  • maturation in epididymis: up to 6 weeks
  • After ejaculation: up to 5 days

So sperm can survive for around 74 days from creation to ejaculation. However, the lifespan inside the male body after the sperm has fully developed is around 6 weeks. Sperm can live for up to 5 days after ejaculation inside the female reproductive system.

What affects sperm lifespan?

There are several internal and external factors that can influence how long sperm survive:

  • Age – sperm motility and quality declines with age
  • Health conditions – diseases like diabetes can impact sperm lifespan
  • Medications – steroids and chemotherapy drugs reduce sperm production
  • Lifestyle – smoking, alcohol, drugs harm sperm
  • Temperature – too much heat can damage sperm
  • Toxins, chemicals – can disrupt sperm production

Protecting sperm by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding toxins is important for preserving lifespan.

Ejaculation frequency

How often a man ejaculates can also affect sperm lifespan and quality. Here is an overview:

  • Daily ejaculation – reduces sperm count per ejaculate
  • 2-3 days abstinence – optimal for sperm number and motility
  • Over 7 days abstinence – motility declines

Doctors generally recommend 2-3 days of abstinence before trying to conceive to maximize healthy sperm. Too frequent and too infrequent ejaculation can reduce sperm quality.

Impacts of shorter sperm lifespan

If sperm have a shorter survival time, either inside the testicles or after ejaculation, it can lead to:

  • Lower sperm count
  • Reduced sperm motility
  • Increase in DNA fragmentation – sperm DNA damage
  • Lower fertility

Men with shorter sperm lifespans may find it harder to conceive naturally. Sperm health and lifespan can be evaluated through a semen analysis test.

Improving sperm lifespan

Here are some tips that may help optimize sperm lifespan and quality:

  • Healthy diet – eat foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients
  • Exercise regularly – maintain healthy weight
  • Stop smoking and limit alcohol
  • Avoid toxins and chemicals when possible
  • Wear loose underwear and avoid saunas or hot tubs
  • Take sperm-boosting supplements like vitamin C and zinc
  • Manage chronic health problems

Making positive lifestyle changes and taking targeted supplements can help men produce healthy sperm with longer lifespans.

When to see a doctor

Consult a doctor if:

  • You have fertility issues or cannot conceive after a year of trying
  • You have known risk factors like varicocele veins, undescended testes, etc
  • You experience sexual problems like erectile dysfunction
  • You have groin, testicle, or scrotum pain
  • You have chronic health conditions or take medications that affect sperm

A urologist or fertility specialist can evaluate your sperm health and lifespans. They may recommend lifestyle changes, supplements, medications or procedures like IVF or ICSI if needed.


In summary, the lifespan of sperm begins at creation in the testicles and lasts around 74 days until ejaculation. Sperm can survive inside the male body for about 6 weeks after full maturation. Many internal and external factors can impact sperm lifespan and quality. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing health conditions can help optimize sperm longevity.