The Basics of Sperm

couple-forrest Sperm, the term comes from a root Greek word “sperma” meaning “seed”. Sperms or sperm cells (biologically known as spermatozoa) are the reproductive cells found in male semen that are essential for human reproduction (and all other mammals). Millions of sperm (spermatozoa) are released in each millimeter of semen ejaculated from the urethra of a male. Therefore, the miracle of a new life starts from one healthy active and fast sperm.

Where sperms are made?

Sperm are produced in healthy males after puberty, around the age of 11 to 13 years and are made in your testicles. Hence, your balls are important for fertility because this is where sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone are made. After sperm are made in the testicles, they travel with a few drops of fluid through the male reproductive system. As they move through the system, the sperm mix with more fluid made by the prostate and seminal vesicles, until the sperm are released (ejaculated) at the time of sexual climax (orgasm).
How do sperms look like?

Each sperm cell has simple three separate parts: the head, middle and tail. The head of the sperm contains half of the man's DNA. To enter the egg, the head of the sperm has a tip designed for penetration known as the acrosome. Energy used by the sperm to propel itself has its origin in the mitochondria wrapped around the center portion of the sperm. The mitochondria uses a simple sugar (fructose) ejaculated in the semen with the sperm to produce energy for the sperm's movement.

What is the most important function of sperm?

Sperms are needed to fertilize the egg in a woman's body in order for a human being to be created. Without sperm, fertilization of the female egg is impossible. For couples that have fertility issues, sperm banks provide clients sperm donations that come from individuals who have been medically screened. The sperm from sperm donors are tested for HIV, AIDS, hepatitis and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).

How does a sperm fertilize an egg?

Sperm are designed to be strong swimmers as they must travel from the opening of the cervix at the tip of a woman's uterus to the fallopian tube to find the egg to fertilize. The acrosome at the tip of the head of the sperm helps it to pierce the female egg. The head of the sperm contains the DNA. Its body contains special structures called mitochondria that provide the "fuel" to move, and the tail helps propel the sperm towards the female egg.

How do sperms move?

The tail of the sperm uses energy produced through the mitochondria's metabolism of sugar to whip back and forth. Sperm only move a mere .12 inches (3 mm) per hour. Over 1,000 movements of the tail propel the sperm cell forward ½ an inch, but the sperm requires thousands of movements of its tail to allow it to reach the woman's egg inside her (1.25 cm).

How long do sperm live?

Sperm can live up to three to five days after ejaculation, if they are ejaculated into the vagina. There they can reside in the mucus around the cervix for three to five days while they are waiting for the egg to come along. They can make their way up through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes and fertilize the egg three to five days after sex. Outside of the vagina or any warm, moist place, they're not going to live as long. They'll only live for a few hours, maybe even a few minutes.

What is the difference between sperm and semen?

Many men often confuse the word “sperm” with that of “semen”. However, while interrelated, both terms are different in form and function.

Semen is the cloudy white body fluid that is emitted from the urethra of the penis during ejaculation and contains “sperms”. Most of the fluid in semen is made up of secretions from male reproductive organs. Usually, each milliliter of semen contains millions of spermatozoa (sperm). The purpose of semen is purely for reproduction, as a vehicle to carry the spermatozoa into the female reproductive tract.

Hence, sperm is the microscopic male reproductive cell while semen refers to the seminal fluid that contains millions of sperms. Also, sperm cells are microscopic and not visible to the normal eye but semen is a viscous liquid easily visible. Hence, semen is the “liquid” medium that contains and facilitates the passage & entry of “solid” sperms from the make penis and into the female vagina

Normal values of sperms

  • Sperm concentration: 20x106 spermatozoa/ml or more

  • Total sperm count: 40x106 spermatozoa or more

  • Motility (movement): 50% or more with forward progression or 25% or more with rapid progression within 60 min after collection

  • Morphology (form): Should be 30% or more with normal form and shape

  • Vitality (life): Should be 75% or more live

  • White blood cells: Should be less than 1x106 /ml

Sperm analysis

The examination of a sample of sperm is an important element in investigating infertility in men and can help examine the motility of sperm, and if an individual suspects he has abnormal sperm, having a sperm sample tested is one way to determine if he is correct.

If there are too many sperm in a sample, or white blood cells appear, which can mean there is an infection, further testing can be done. The semen is produced by masturbation after a period of 2-3 days’ abstinence. The sample can be produced in the centre or at home, but in the latter case, it must be brought to the lab within an hour.

There are many factors that can interfere with healthy sperm and interfere with fertility, such as recreational and prescription drug use. Use of tobacco and alcohol can also reduce motility and fertility. If your sperm is less than you want it to be, there are ways to increase it. In addition to quantity, take into consideration the quality as well, which can be impacted by your lifestyle.


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