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Here are ten interesting facts about sperm that you probably didn’t know about

By Kel Tan

Guys, listen up. Your sperm may be tiny (each sperm cell measures a mere 0.05 millimetres, or 0.002 inches), but they play a gargantuan role when it comes to conceiving a child – so don’t underestimate them! Here are ten fun facts about your humble soldiers that may astound you.

1. Up to 90 per cent of sperm produced is deformed.

Up to 9 out of 10 sperm cells produced by the average male are defective; common abnormalities include having double heads, coiled tails, pinheads and more. The sexual machinery clearly isn’t in tip-top condition!  

 

2. Sperm is produced in enormous quantities.

The previous statistic may sound alarming, but thankfully, the average male produces millions of sperm cells per day – roughly 1,500 sperm cells per second1 and up to a whopping 525 billion sperm cells in a lifetime2 to be specific. Plus, over 40 million sperm cells are released in a single ejaculation. Now that’s an impressive feat by any standard!

Whoever said men are lazy creatures…?

 

3. One Testicle? No problem!

Men with one testicle can still produce just as much sperm as a man with two testicles. (Fun fact, Lance Armstrong fathered a child with only one testicle!) Only one sperm out of 200 million sperm in an average ejaculation is needed to fertilise an egg.

If you feel that you’ve been having problems with fertility, go for a semen analysis to check your sperm count and to put your mind at ease. There are many factors that can prevent a couple for getting pregnant. It is recommended for both husband and wife to go for a fertility health check together to dismiss any tell-tale signs. 

 

4. They don’t have a good sense of direction.

It’s a good thing that sperm is produced in large quantities, as they aren’t all that great with directions. They actually have difficulty swimming in a straight line, and often end up going around in circles.

In fact, they rely on a chemical substance produced by the egg to guide them in the right direction – that’s their form of Google Maps!

 

5. Sperm prefer the cold.

Ever wondered why your “balls hang low”, so to speak? Sperm functions best at around 34 degrees Celsius; as such, our regular body heat is detrimental to sperm production and survival. Testicles offer a cooler environment that’s about 2.5 to 3 degrees Celsius cooler than the rest of the body.

Furthermore, their “hanging” position enables air to circulate around them, thereby keeping temperatures low. Now that’s pretty cool (pun intended)!  

Psst…did you know that merely crossing your legs can increase scrotal temperature by up to 1 degree Celsius? 

 

6. Sperm can live for a long time.

Sperm are tough little soldiers. Contrary to popular belief, sperm cells don’t die immediately after being exposed to air. In fact, they can live for more than six hours in a clean and closed environment, and at body temperature. Plus, they can live for up to five days in the female reproductive tract, especially if there is a healthy amount of cervical mucus present.

 

7. Sperm health is influenced by food…

As the adage goes, “you are what you eat”. This is indeed true when it comes to sperm health. For instance, oysters are more than just an aphrodisiac; they are also packed with zinc, which can boost sperm production.

Likewise, tomatoes contain a substance called lycophene that contributes to sperm count. Omega-3 essential fatty acids in foods such as salmon, tuna and chia seeds help in the formation of healthy sperm, too.

On the other hand, excessive junk food can be detrimental to both sperm count and quality.

 

8. Lifestyle factors play a part, too.

For instance, do consider giving up cigarettes if you’re trying to conceive. Nicotine has been shown to adversely affect sperm count and motility. The good news? The negative effects that smoking has on sperm are reversible; once you quit, sperm quality can improve within four to six weeks. That’s surely a compelling reason to kick the habit, no?

Likewise, alcohol has been shown to have a negative effect on sperm health. Drinking just five alcoholic drinks per week can greatly reduce sperm quality.

 

9. Sperm determines baby’s gender

Each sperm carries either a female “X” chromosome or a male “Y” chromosome which will eventually determine the baby’s sex. The “male sperm” swims faster than the “female sperm”, but also dies faster compared to the “female sperm”.  

So…having intercourse slightly before ovulation will result in “male sperm” dying off and leaving only the “female sperm” around to fertilise the egg by the time it is ovulated.

 

10. Males produce sperm all their lives.

Unlike women, who are born with all the eggs they will ever produce and eventually go through menopause, men will continue to produce sperm their whole lives. But, sperm quality and quantity also decreases in men after 35!

 

1http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/03/100318-men-sperm-1500-stem-cells-second-male-birth-control/
2http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20100910/smokers-sperm-less-fertile
3http://www.yourtango.com/2014208925/oral-sex-blow-job-road-test-how-food-drinks-affect-taste-semen

 

I Love Children thanks Dr Peter Chew, Chairman of aLife, for his valuable input.

 

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