How Long Can Sperm Survive Outside the Body?

Sperm can survive outside of the body for no more than about an hour. In general, if the semen is still wet it may well have live sperm.

Once sperm enter the female body, however, their lifespan increases. Inside the vagina, sperm can only survive for about six hours, as vaginal secretions contain acids that break the sperm down pretty rapidly. Vaginal infections or the presence of a spermicide may destroy sperm, and not allow it to reach the fallopian tubes.

Once sperm travels through the cervix, however, its lifespan increases even more dramatically. Sperm may survive in the Fallopian tubes for as long as 7 days, but generally survives for around 3 to 5 days. This means that fertilization can occur even if the sperm are deposited as much as a full week prior to ovulation.

If a woman’s cervical mucus is not very hospitable to sperm, lifespan of sperm may be shorter. There are aids, such as “pre-seed lubricant,” that may assist with this process.

If you are trying to conceive, it may be helpful to try to elevate your bottom in order to encourage the sperm to travel to your cervix more rapidly. Some studies have suggested that the contractions that accompany orgasm may pull the sperm from the vagina to the cervix.


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