How many amazing human sperm facts do you know?
Sperm are remarkable specialised cells. Spermatozoa were first formally identified in 1677 by Dutch microbiologist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. He described them as animalcules, a term meaning little animals.
It’s believed that van Leeuwnhoek subscribed to the theory of performationism, where by organisms grow from miniature versions of themselves.
We now know that each sperm doesn’t contain a small, fully formed human!
Here are some amazing human sperm facts:
An average man produces 1,500 sperm per second! This high volume is to ensure that there are plenty of fresh sperm available at any given time. Compared with other mammals, human sperm is poorer quality.
Sperm are propelled by a tail called a flagellate. This moves at 1 to 3mm per minute by rotating in an elliptical cone. This is equivalent to 1.2 cm per hour and almost 30cm per day.
Sperm can live for up to 5 days inside the vagina depending on how acidic the environment is. The average length of time sperm will live in the vagina is 1 to 2 days. In comparison, bat sperm can live for an incredible 145 days!
Sperm Vs. Egg
The head of a sperm has a structure called the acrosome. When it attaches to the egg, the acrosome releases chemicals that ‘melt’ a hole in the egg so that the sperm can penetrate and commence fertilisation.
Sperm have their own ‘body guards’. When sperm are mature have half the amount of DNA compared with other cells in the body. This alerts the immune system and the body will attempt to attack spermatozoa as they are considered ‘foreign’ bodies.
To overcome this, spermatozoa have specialised cells within the testicles that act as a barrier from immune system cells.
While some artificial reproductive technologies use that has been frozen, it’s not always effective. In 10 to 20% of men sperm cryopreservation causes irreversible damage, making them unsuitable donors 2.
To date the longest recorded successful storage of cryogenically frozen human sperm is 21 years.
This is why testicles will respond (sometimes very obviously) to changes to the external temperature. If the outside temperature is cold, testicles will ascend. Conversely, if it’s hot, they will descend. This physical adjustment occurs in an attempt to maintain a constant temperature to support healthy sperm development.
How can you make the best sperm?
Real sex is better than masturbation. Studies have shown that sperm samples collected via sexual intercourse can contain up to 120% more sperm3. This sperm also has better motility and morphology compared with samples collected from masturbation.
Ejaculate regularly. Even if you don’t have sex frequently, masturbating regularly can still help to improve sperm health. A reduction of semen turn-over can prolong the exposure to oxidative stress are reduce fertility.
Sperm doesn’t like stress. Exposure to environmental toxins is harmful to sperm health. This causes oxidative stress which damages sperm, reducing fertility. It takes up to three months for sperm to fully develop.
Improve your fertility with micronutrients
Several micronutrients such as vitamins, vitaminoids, amino acids and trace elements have proven themselves effective in improving sperm quantity, mobility and shape. This directly translates into better overall sperm quality and therefore a higher chance of pregnancy.
For those reasons, male fertility food supplements are most definitely recommended as the first step in the treatment of oligospermia and asthenospermia.
Also men who have not yet taken a semen analysis test will benefit from supplementing micronutrients to ensure they are able to deliver high-quality semen.
There are no contraindications or side effects to this form of natural ‘sperm boosting’.
An excellent and detailed overview of many studies can be found in Steven Sinclair’s Male Infertility: Nutritional and Environmental Considerations.
A considerable range of male fertility supplements available on the UK market.
However, the products differ widely in price and composition. Menfertility.org has compared 10 of them in terms of value for money and the nutrients they provide.
The most effective male fertility nutrients
A multitude of studies has shown that highly dosed nutrients have potentially significant impact on overall sperm quality.
Vitamin B9, better known as folic acid has been shown to increase count, motility and morphology10.
Sperm cells take 11 weeks to mature in the testicles. Only then they are ready for ejaculation.
If you adjust your diet today it will thus take three months for the better sperm to be ready for fertilisation.
You must therefore keep the diet or supplement on an ongoing basis – ideally until your partner is pregnant or you decide for a different treatment.
All of the male fertility supplements in our great test include several of these nutrients at once, albeit at a lower dose. This is a cost-effective and convenient way making this type of fertility therapy affordable and requiring taking only one all-in-one supplement instead of many.
The top male fertility supplements
- “Smith, D. et.al. (2009). Human sperm accumulation near surfaces: a simulation study.” Journal of Fluid Mechanisms. Volume 621, (pp. 289-320).” ↩
- “http://www.hfea.gov.uk/74.html#6” ↩
- “Gerris, J. (1999). Methods of semen collection not based on masturbation or surgical sperm retrieval. Human Reproduction, Volume 5, Issue 3. (pp. 211-5).” ↩
- “Imhof, Martin et al., “Improvement of sperm quality after micronutritient supplementation”, e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Epub published ahead of print.” ↩
- “http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/5/1/28.pdf” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7701414” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12568837” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8085668” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21427118” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20978181” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11872201” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21403799” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12623744” ↩
- “http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8862739” ↩