You produce sperm every day, but a full sperm regeneration cycle (spermatogenesis) takes about 64 days.
Spermatogenesis is the complete cycle of sperm production and maturation. It constantly supplies your body with sperm able to travel through the vagina to an unfertilized ovum in a woman’s ovaries to conceive.
Read on to learn more about how often your body replenishes your sperm, what happens in your body to make sperm production possible, how you can help keep your sperm healthy, and more.
Your testicles are constantly producing new sperm in spermatogenesis. The full process takes about 64 days.
This may seem like overkill, but you release anywhere from 20 to 300 million sperm cells in a single milliliter of semen. Your body maintains a surplus to ensure there’s a fresh supply for conception.
The sperm regeneration cycle includes:
1. The division of diploid sperm cells into haploid spermatids that can carry genetic data.
2. The maturation of sperm in your testicles, specifically in the seminiferous tubules. Hormones help spermatids through this process until they become spermatozoa. Sperm then remain in the testicles until they’re almost mature.
A mature sperm has a head containing genetic material and a tail to help the sperm travel through the female body for fertilization.
3. The movement of sperm into the epididymis, a tube connected to your testicles that stores sperm. The epididymis preserves sperm until ejaculation. This is also where sperm gain motility, or the ability to move. This enables them to travel when released in seminal fluid (semen) during ejaculation.
Fertilization is most likely when you haven’t ejaculated in a while. Constant sperm regeneration fills the epididymis with fresh sperm. The longer they build up, the higher your sperm count in a single ejaculation.
If you and your partner are trying to conceive, waiting a few days between ejaculations can increase your chances of conception.
You can further increase your chances by abstaining from ejaculation the week before your partner ovulates. This will maximize your sperm count during your partner’s most fertile window.
On the other hand, more frequent ejaculations can lower your sperm count in a single ejaculation. This can help you avoid getting your partner pregnant, especially if you abstain from sex until after ovulation ends.
The healthier your sperm are, the more likely you are to be fertile and conceive.
Aside from quantity, or how many of them you produce, sperm health is measured by:
- Sperm movement (motility). Sperm need to travel through a woman’s cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes before they get to the ovum for fertilization. Motility is measured by how many sperm are moving — if you’re fertile, at least 40 percent of your sperm are motile.
- Sperm shape (morphology). Sperm should have long tails and oval-shaped heads. A higher count of normal-shaped sperm means a higher chance of conceiving with your partner.
Try the following to help make sure that your sperm are being produced in high enough quantities, as well as with high motility and regular shapes:
- Exercise regularly. Researchers in one 2014 study analyzed 433 semen samples from 231 participants. They found that men who did outdoor activities or lifted weights for about 3.2 hours a week had sperm counts up to 42 percent higher than men who didn’t exercise at all.
- Get enough vitamin C and D in your diet. A 2016 study of 200 men found that men who lost weight and took 1,000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C supplements every other day saw an increase in sperm count and motility. This effect was more noticeable as the men lost weight. A 2015 study of 102 couples showed that female partners of men with normal levels of vitamin D in their blood samples experienced higher pregnancy rates than partners of men with vitamin D deficiency, despite no substantial differences in their sperm count or motility.
- Get enough lycopene. A 2014 study suggests that consuming 4 to 8 mg of lycopene daily can help increase sperm count and viability, or the amount of sperm living in a given sample of semen. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables.
- Limit how much you smoke. A 2015 review of 33 studies dating back to 1982 found that smoking had a noticeable effect on semen quality and sperm function, especially in normally fertile men.
- Limit your alcohol intake. A 2014 study of 1,221 men found that the more the men drank, the more they produced irregularly shaped sperm. The researchers also noted a link between drinking and low testosterone, which can also affect fertility.
- Wear loose-fitting underwear and clothing. Your testicles hang away from your body so that they remain 35–39°F (1.67–3.89°C) cooler than your body temperature. This is the optimal environment for sperm production. Wearing tight underwear, jeans, or pants pushes your testicles against your body and raises their temperature, which can cause sperm to lose motility and viability.
If you and your partner are trying to conceive, you may want to:
- Have sex two to three times a week to increase your chances of releasing many healthy sperm.
- Wait two to three days between sessions to make sure that you release the largest possible number of sperm in the highest possible volume of semen. For this to work, you’ll need to abstain from masturbation on “off” days.
- Use an ovulation predictor kit to test the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your partner’s urine. LH levels go up right before ovulation. If your partner receives a positive result, have sex the day they took the test. Having sex for the next couple of days may also increase your chance of conceiving.
- Don’t use oil-based lubricants while you’re trying to conceive. They can have a negative impact on sperm health.
- See your doctor for a semen analysis if you’ve been trying to conceive for over six months. Your sperm health depends on many factors, including your age, diet, and overall sperm count. Your doctor can determine how healthy your sperm are and whether conception is possible, as well as advise you on next steps.
Your body produces fresh sperm every day, and your sperm supply gets replenished at least every 64 days. This ensures that a sufficient supply of sperm is available at any given time.
Sperm quality and quantity are affected by your diet and lifestyle. Eat well, stay active, and avoid unhealthy behaviors to keep your sperm as healthy as possible.