How long does sperm live?
Most sperm die within minutes after ejaculation inside the vagina or outside the woman's genital tract. However, once sperm enters the woman's genital tract, the cervix and uterus, some can survive up to 5 days, though most will not survive longer than 1-2 days. Thus the longest that sperm can survive in fertile cervical fluid or the uterus is five days. Studies have shown that most pregnancies are a result of intercourse that takes place within the 1-2 days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. Surprisingly, some pregnancies can occur after intercourse that took place up to 5 days before ovulation.
Most sperm die inside the female genital tract within 1-2 days after ejaculation.
Sperm do not typically survive for more than five days, even in fertile cervical fluid or the uterus. A lifespan of 1-2 days is much more typical for the average sperm, even in fertile cervical fluid, and less if there is no fertile cervical fluid. To maximize your chances of conception, keep having intercourse daily at least every 1-2 days and until ovulation is confirmed. Intercourse closer to ovulation is much more likely to get you pregnant.
Sperm Survival in Cervical Fluid
The longest that sperm can survive in fertile (egg-white) cervical fluid is five days. When sperm is processed and maintained under strict laboratory conditions in a nutrient medium, they can remain alive for up to seven days. Sperm samples collected into a sterile container may remain alive for many hours, but their fertilizing capability drops dramatically after 60 minutes. Sperm exposed to room air on clothing, bed linens or toilet seats lose motility (the ability to swim) rapidly and die within less than one hour. Once the semen dries out, the sperm is dead and cannot fertilize the egg.
It's All About the Environment
- Sperm exposed to air, deposited on clothing, bed linens, or toilet seats, for example, dry out very quickly and die, usually within minutes after ejaculation.
- A sperm sample collected in a sterile container at body temperature may remain alive for several hours, but the sperms' fertilizing capability drops dramatically within 60 minutes after ejaculation.
- Sperm that moves from the vagina into the uterus can survive longer. Studies have shown that conception is possible up to five to six days after intercourse. It is quite possible for some sperm to survive that long in the uterus, usually in the cervical mucus or the fallopian tubes. However, that is not typical. Most sperm die in the uterus within 24-48 hours after ejaculation, and the more time has passed after ejaculation, the less likely is the fertilization of the egg.
- In excellent laboratory conditions and in a nutrient medium, they can remain alive for up to seven days.
- Sperm can be frozen at extremely low temperatures (but not in the refrigerator) and survive for years.
- Sperm can survive in the vagina for up to several hours.
- Most sperm die in the cervix within 24-48 hours, but some can survive for 4-5 days.
- Some sperm can also survive in the fallopian tubes for several days.