Sperm and semen – what do we really know about it? Well, most of us know that sperm is found in semen and that it’s also a male thing that populates our planet, but is there more to it than that? Ah, yes. Apparently there’s a lot more to it!
I’ve had a dig around and what I’ve discovered is actually very fascinating stuff. For one, sperm or semen isn’t bad for you if it’s consumed. However, it might not have a lot of appeal when you see some of the ingredients. Secondly, apparently one man can produce litres upon litres of the stuff! So, is that all there is to it? Ah, no. You’ll be surprised at just how many fun facts are out there, so let’s take a closer look, shall we?
- A man typically produces about half a teaspoon of semen per ejaculation and despite being a small amount, it’s powerful stuff! Incredibly, one aspirin capsule filled with sperm could re-populate the planet to it’s current number of inhabitants. No kidding.
- A full teaspoon of semen contains around 5 calories.
- Ejaculation can squirt out at an incredible speed – it’s been clocked at 48 km or 28 miles per hour!
- If you think that’s amazing the penis can shoot semen anywhere from 30-60 cm or 12-24 inches with nothing in it’s path.
- An average of 17 litres of semen will be ejaculated by the average man during his lifespan. This will include about half a trillion sperm.
- Human semen contains over 30 different compounds; 65–75 per cent consists of the sperms energy supply and protection from the female immune system, while 25–30 per cent comes from the prostrate and helps stabilise the DNA within the sperm. Plus, some substances from here help liquefy sperm once in the vagina.Without this the sperm would behave like tiny statues, trapped and unable to swim.
- Only 2-5 per cent of semen is actually sperm. Yet one ejaculation can release between 200-500 million swimmers! Then there’s less than one percent of substances like mucus included. This enables the sperm to move more efficiently through the vagina, plus it contributes to the texture.
- Semen also has some nutritional value, see below:
- Unlike women who are born with all their eggs for reproduction, men’s bodies produce sperm 24/7 for their entire lifespan. The sperm gets slower with age and the DNA less stable, but their private sperm bank is always operational.
- Latest studies indicate that it takes around 2 months for sperm to produce and be ready to fertilise an egg.
- Sperm are initially the same as other cells in the body. However, when they are able to leave the testes their DNA is halved. The bodies suspicious immune system would attack them if the testes didn’t protect them using other cells to guard them like a fortress.
- Each sperm is said to be about 50 micrometers or 0.002 of an inch from head to tail.
- If a man were to ejaculate once and lay the sperm from head to tail the distance would cover around 9.5km or 6 miles!
- 90 per cent of human sperm are abnormally deformed. How they are deformed varies significantly, but having two heads or tails, tiny to extra large heads, or coiled tails are all common.
- Sperm move by wriggling their tails but they don’t always know which direction to go. Like a lost hiker in the forest, sperm are known to go round in circles.
- The average sperm can swim about 18cm or seven inches in an hour. Considering their size, that’s pretty fast!
- The head of the sperm consists of an oval-shaped structure which contains potent chemicals. When the sperm reaches the egg these chemicals melt through the outer surface, effectively drilling a tiny hole for the sperm to enter the egg and get to work!
- Sperm quantity and quality can be effected by lifestyle factors like drinking alcohol or too much coffee, smoking and being overweight.
Common Sperm Myths
- Dead sperm can produce babies! Often during IVF the sperm will cease to move. Apparently simply by inserting the sperm into the egg, the DNA will release and do it’s job.
- Some claims have been made that sperm can survive inside a women body for up to 9 days. That’s a myth. The average is closer to 2, but the odd sperm can survive up to 5. They live significantly less outside the body.
- Despite body temperatures rising during sex, the testes actually remain cooler by about 14 degrees. Additionally the male body has mechanisms like muscles in the scrotum. These can raise or lower the testicles bringing them closer for warmth or farther away to reduce heat. Plus, when one testicle is removed or damaged the other will take over some of the production. Some say this can reduce fertility, however this isn’t the case.
- According to Dr. Niederberger urology professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, wearing boxer shorts instead of tighter underwear won’t help boost fertility as previously thought.
Images via sayitwithacondom.com, imgkid.com
Kim is a writer and SHESAID's resident psychologist. A self-proclaimed tomboy who understands more about relationships and men than she ever will about glitz and glamour. Follow Kim on Google+.