How Long Does Sperm Live?

how long can sperm live for?

We use Advanced AI to translate our blog content. If the translation isn’t perfect, or if you have any queries about the content, our medical team is readily available to answer. Simply email [email protected]


Welcome to the world of male fertility, where millions of sperm cells embark on a remarkable journey every day. Within the testicles, a complex network of tubes known as seminiferous tubules provides a haven for germ cells. Guided by hormones like testosterone, these cells transform into sperm, evolving until they take on the familiar “tadpole” shape—complete with head and tail, scientifically termed spermatozoa. Once the sperm cells acquire tails, they migrate to the epididymis, a tube adjacent to the testes. Over the course of about five weeks, they continue their maturation process within the epididymis. This journey culminates with their arrival in the vas deferens, the sperm duct. Upon arousal, approximately 200-400 million sperm mix with a white fluid produced by the prostate gland and seminal vesicles, creating seminal fluid. This amalgamation results in semen. During sexual intercourse, this semen is ejaculated through the urethra. Should ejaculation not occur, the body naturally breaks down and reabsorbs the surplus sperm cells. In this blog, we discuss what happens to the sperm cells after they’re ejaculated, and importantly, how long do sperm live for?


The Timing of Sperm Formation

Germ cells need around 2.5 months to mature into fully-fledged sperm cells capable of fertilization. Despite this duration, males produce millions of sperm daily. With an ongoing supply of sperm, a healthy male’s fertility remains constant, even with frequent ejaculations. This signifies that, within the fertile window of a woman’s menstrual cycle, conception can occur at any time.

However, as age advances, sperm count and quality tend to decline, accompanied by increased mutation potential. Lifestyle choices and health factors also contribute to potential declines in sperm attributes, impacting the chances of successful conception.


Exploring Sperm Longevity

The lifespan of sperm varies depending on environmental conditions. Sperm can succumb within minutes or endure for months. In the forthcoming sections, we delve into diverse scenarios that influence sperm longevity.


Life Outside the Body

Once outside the male body and out in the open air, sperm cells can survive for a matter of minutes, up to around 30 minutes. Vital to their existence are moisture and warmth; without these, exposure to air causes rapid desiccation and death. However, in a sterilised, air tight container, sperm cells can last for several hours. We often get asked this question at ExSeed because with our at home sperm test, you deliver your sample into the collection cup and we recommend leaving for 20 minutes to liquefy before transferring to the slide. Sometimes, with a particularly viscous sample, another 10-20 minutes might be needed for easier transferring. As the sperm sample is in a sealed cup, the sperms lifespan is elongated. However, at around the 60 minute mark, the sperm parameter motility (the movement of the sperm cells) will decline, so we recommend always completing your analysis ideally within about 45 minutes from collecting the sample for the most true-to-life motility measure.


Life Within the Female Body

When enveloped by sperm-friendly cervical mucus, sperm can thrive for up to five days. This mucus safeguards and nourishes the sperm, promoting their endurance and mobility. For conception to occur, intercourse must coincide with the fertile window—comprising the days leading up to and including ovulation.


Water and Sperm Survival

Sperm’s survival hinges on moisture and warmth, rendering conception through water implausible. Water disperses sperm, removing them from the protective environment of semen. Moreover, chemicals present in water, like chlorine, prove detrimental to sperm viability.


The Frozen Realm

Under regulated conditions, sperm can endure for decades when cryogenically frozen using liquid nitrogen. Storage in sperm banks safeguards their longevity. The UK, for instance, permits storage for up to 55 years in special circumstances. Such storage periods are determined by legal considerations, rather than any inherent expiration of frozen sperm.


Nurturing Sperm Health

In the journey to parenthood, healthy sperm play a pivotal role. While timing intercourse optimally remains crucial, enhancing sperm health through lifestyle changes is equally vital. Here are steps you can take:

  1. Maintain Optimal Temperature: Foster a slightly cooler environment for your testicles by opting for loose underwear or taking breaks in warmer settings.
  2. Quit Smoking: Abandoning smoking boosts male fertility, contributing to healthier sperm.
  3. Limit Alcohol Intake: Excessive alcohol adversely impacts sperm quality, making moderation essential.
  4. Avoid Recreational Drugs: Substances like cannabis, anabolic steroids, and cocaine impair sperm quality and fertility.
  5. Consult Medical Experts: Assess the impact of medications—prescription or over-the-counter—on fertility by consulting a healthcare professional.
  6. Embrace Healthy Choices: A balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight contribute to robust sperm health.
  7. Manage Stress: High stress levels can hinder sperm production. Prioritize relaxation to promote optimal fertility.


Given the 2.5-month sperm production cycle, expect gradual improvements in sperm health after adopting these measures. Your journey toward enhancing sperm health is an investment in the future—for you and your potential family.

ExSeed home sperm test kit 2 test
ExSeed Home Sperm Test Kit (2 tests)


Refill Kit Monthly Subscription

£24.99 / month

ExSeed Combi


More to explore

Our products

ExSeed home sperm test kit 2 test
ExSeed Home Sperm Test Kit (2 tests)


ExSeed Refill Kit (5 tests)


ExSeed Combi


Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.