There are a lot of things you may or may not know about sperm. Here are 8 facts that might surprise you.
- Sperm contains half the number of chromosomes as non-sex cells. When the DNA of a sperm combines with the DNA of a female egg, the two join to form a zygote–the precursor for a fetus!
- Unlike female eggs that are present at birth, sperm cells are constantly being made. It takes about two months to make a single sperm cell.
- Sperm is made inside the testicles, and certain activities have been shown to decrease the quality of sperm. For example, prolonged hot tub use, riding bicycles, and wearing too tight underwear and pants can negatively affect the quality and quantity of sperm. Diet and other lifestyle factors play a role in the health of sperm. Alcohol and tobacco can decrease the quality of sperm. Men who are overweight have less healthy sperm and a lower number as well.
- Doing work on your laptop on your lap can decrease sperm quality and quantity. The heat is thought to destroy the sperm that are held inside of the testicles. If you are trying to conceive, work at a table or desk instead.
- During fertility testing, the number of sperm is counted. Other factors affecting sperm quality are also studied such as the size and shape of the head, how fast or slow they swim, and whether or not they actually move in a forward direction, or just move from side to side.
- Sperm generally live about 4-5 days inside of a woman. Couples who are trying to conceive should have sex a few days before expected ovulation so that the sperm are available once the egg is released.
- A single ejaculate contains about 2 million sperm. When conceiving, however, the number of sperm is not as important as the quality of sperm. Having less sperm that can swim long distances in a straight line is more important than have 2 million sperm that just spin in circles, never making their way to the egg inside the fallopian tubes.
- Sperm contains prostaglandins that help ripen the cervix for labor, although this will only help move labor along if the body is ready to have a baby. It’s thought that three ejaculates contain the same amount of prostaglandins as Cervadil, a synthetic method of labor induction.