Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

Select An Article

Sperm FAQ

Font Size

If it takes just one sperm and one egg to create a baby, why must men make so many sperm? And how many sperm are considered normal? How long do sperm live? Can they survive outside the body? Do men stop making sperm as they age? Is there anything you can do to increase sperm production or improve the health of your sperm?

WebMD takes a look at the facts about sperm and answers these and other frequently asked questions.

Recommended Related to Infertility & Reproduction

How to Pay for Fertility Treatments

If you're struggling to get pregnant and facing the roller coaster of a fertility treatment, the last thing you want to worry about is how you'll pay for it. But it can take a big bite out of your income. The national infertility association RESOLVE estimates the average cost of an in vitro fertilization cycle, using fresh embryos, at more than $8,000 -- with medications costing another $3,000 to $5,000. That translates into well over $10,000 for just one shot at getting pregnant. Here are five...

Read the How to Pay for Fertility Treatments article > >

How long do sperm live?

The answer depends on a number of factors, the most important of which is where the sperm are located. On a dry surface, such as clothing or bedding, sperm are dead by the time the semen has dried. In water, such as a warm bath or hot tub, sperm will likely live longer because they thrive in warm, wet environments; however, the chances sperm in a tub of water will find their way inside a female bather and cause her to become pregnant are extremely low.

Inside a woman's body, sperm can live for up to five days depending on the conditions. If you have unprotected sex even a few days before your partner ovulates, there is a chance of achieving a pregnancy.

How many sperm do you need to achieve a pregnancy?

It takes just one sperm to fertilize an egg and achieve a pregnancy, but for each sperm that reaches and fertilizes an egg, there are millions that don't. The average ejaculation contains close to 100 million sperm; according to the World Health Organization, men who have fewer than 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen may be at risk for having infertility issues.

Why are so many sperm released if it takes only one to make a baby? To meet the waiting egg, the semen must travel from the vagina to the fallopian tubes, an arduous journey that few sperm survive. For those that complete the trip, penetration of the egg is far from a sure thing. The egg is covered by a thick layer that makes fertilization difficult. Experts believe this process may be nature's way of allowing only the healthiest sperm to fertilize the egg, thereby providing the best chances to produce a healthy baby.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Four pregnant women standing in a row
How much do you know about conception?
Couple with surrogate mother
Which one is right for you?
couple lying in grass holding hands
Why Dad's health matters.
couple viewing positive pregnancy test
6 ways to improve your chances.
Which Treatment Is Right For You
Conception Myths
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Charting Your Fertility Cycle
Fertility Specialist
Understanding Fertility Symptoms
invitro fertilization