Men produce between two and five mililitres of semen each time they ejaculate. Each mililitre of semen contains between 20 million and 300 million sperm cells.
Each sperm cell has three main parts – a head, body and tail. The head holds the nucleus, which is full of genetic material; the tail propels sperm for swimming and helps breach the egg membrane.
The production of sperm is an intricate process that takes place in the testes. Each day, thousands of sperm cells are created and fed until they are secreted in seminal fluid during ejaculation. Each sperm cell contains 23 chromosomes that can combine with an egg’s 46 chromosomes to form a fertilized egg, resulting in the formation of a new organism.
A healthy adult man can release between 40 million and 1.2 billion sperm cells per month. A single ejaculation usually contains 300 million sperm cells. It is important to understand the quantity of sperm released because a high number may indicate an unhealthy reproductive system.
When sexual excitement reaches a certain level, nerves that connect to parts of the spinal cord trigger an ejaculation. The semen released is a sticky liquid known as cum, or sperm, that contains sperm cells and other fluids. During ejaculation, the sperm travels from the epididymis to the vas deferens, where muscle contractions cause the sperm to become airborne. The sperm then enters the urethra, where it mixes with additional fluid to form semen.
There are a variety of factors that can affect how much sperm is released during ejaculation, including medications and health conditions. According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, men typically expel on average 1.25 to 5 ml of semen each time they ejaculate. Semen analysis tests are used to determine the sperm count of a sample, with 15 million to over 200 million sperm cells per milliliter of semen considered normal.
During a semen analysis, sperm characteristics are evaluated, such as sperm count, movement (motility), and shape (morphology). A sample of a man’s semen is collected during intercourse in a special condom that collects the fluid into a sterile container. Andrologists may instruct patients not to engage in intercourse or masturbation for 2 – 5 days before the test in order to ensure that the best sample is provided for the most accurate results.
When a sperm sample is examined under a microscope, the doctor will be able to see how many sperm are present and what their motility and morphology is like. They will also be able to tell the pH level of the sample, which is important because an acidic semen can kill sperm or prevent them from swimming to fertilize an egg. The doctor may also check for white blood cells, which can indicate an infection that could interfere with fertility.
The results of a semen analysis can give the doctor an indication of how much sperm is being produced, whether it’s motile or not, and what factors may be contributing to male factor infertility. The doctor can also use the results of a semen analysis to help determine what treatment options are available for the patient. Depending on the results, the doctor may recommend further testing or assisted reproductive technologies.
A man releases millions of sperm cells each time he ejaculates. Each sperm has a head, a body and a tail that helps it to swim from the testicle through the epididymis and into the spermatic cord. A healthy sperm cell can whip its tail to get around, but even the most vigorous sperm struggle to reach an egg in a woman’s fallopian tube. For every sperm that makes it, there are probably millions that don’t.
It’s important for a man to have enough sperm to increase the chances of fertilization. That’s why it’s a good idea for men to have a healthy lifestyle, which includes a nutritious diet and regular exercise. Some health conditions can also affect sperm production, including diabetes and some medications.
Sperm cells need lots of high-octane fuel to whip their tails around. Luckily for them, they get that fuel from the sugar fructose, which is released by the seminal vesicles. The fluid from the prostate also contains chemicals that help sperm cells move through the network of tubules and ducts into the vagina.
If you suffer from ejaculatory dysfunction, your symptoms may include pain in the penis or genital area before or during sexual activity. You may also experience an increased frequency of ejaculation or the sensation that you are unable to control your ejaculation. A doctor can diagnose ejaculatory dysfunction with a comprehensive medical history and a focused genital exam. A blood test is usually also performed to check the level of testosterone.
A single sperm cell measuring only 0.05 mm in length needs to swim over 152 mm from the testicle to the cervix to reach an egg and be fertilized. But not all sperm cells make it that far. A man’s sperm count should be above an average number, or else he may struggle to become pregnant.
A person can determine his sperm count by having his semen tested in a laboratory. The test measures the concentration of sperm in 1 milliliter (ml) of semen. The test also checks other factors that can affect fertility. A person who wants to check his sperm count should ejaculate into a sample cup.
On average, each ejaculation contains from 15 million to 200 million sperms in the 2 to 6 ml of semen that are released. However, a person with low sperm counts might have difficulty getting pregnant even if he ejaculates this amount of semen.
The sperm in an ejaculation have a very short lifespan outside of the body. On dry surfaces, they die in a few seconds or hours. In water, such as a bathtub or hot tub, sperm can live for a few days. If a man has trouble with ejaculatory dysfunction, he can try dietary changes and medications such as buspirone (BuSpar), a treatment for anxiety; amantadine (Symmetrel(r)), a treatment for Parkinson’s disease; and cabergoline, which promotes dopamine levels.