A second just passed by and in that time period, all the average males around the world created 1,500 sperm cells respectively. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but apparently, this isn’t the ONLY crazy thing about sperm.
All of us know that sperm is required for the creation of another human being. However, there’s no denying the fact that sperm just doesn’t get enough credit for the role they play in reproduction. Perhaps it is because it is the woman who eventually gets to carry a new child within her body all through the nine months of pregnancy.
But, the fact of the matter is that half of the genetic code of a child is carried within the sperm released by the man.
Most interestingly, people always seem to have a bit of an agenda when it comes to sperm. On the one hand, we have people who want to kill their sperm cells, while on the other, we have people who want to learn of ways to boost their production of sperm. Oh and let’s not forget, there are those too who want to buy or sell them.
Apparently, not a single person out there is interested in appreciating sperm for the precious little wigglers that they are. I mean, come to think of it, wouldn’t the world be a lonely place had it not been for sperm? With that, here are 15 of the most interesting and crazy facts about sperm that might make you appreciate the role they play in creating life:
15 They Have Superhero-Like Powers
Believe it or not, but sperm actually has the power to melt the surface of the female egg to dissolve the outer membrane of the egg. How do they do that? Well, by releasing enzymes from a portion of the head that is known as the ‘acrosome’.
Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but the fact is that sperm actually has the power to melt away the surface of the female egg. In order to do so, they basically release enzymes from a portion of the head known as the acrosome.
These enzymes go on to dissolve the outer membrane of the egg so that it becomes easier for the sperm to burrow through the egg wall. Moving forwards, the sperm plasma fuses with the plasma membrane of the egg. It is at this point that the sperm head gets disconnected from the tail and conception take place.
14 They Can’t Swim Straight
Sperm have the potential to whip their tails, but they find it just about impossible to swim in a straight line. Believe it or not, but only half of them do so. So what happens to the rest of the sperm cells? Well, they just keep on swimming around in circles or bob along with the motion of the semen.
However, when you consider just how many start their journey, quite a few of them make it to the egg. Sperm are helped along by the vaginal secretions of the woman when she's in her fertile time, but when she's not, her vaginal discharge is thicker and makes it harder for the sperm to reach its goal.
So how is it that sperm cells know where they have to go? According to scientists, they find a waiting egg cell through a few complex mechanisms. They continue to swim toward higher concentrations of molecules that are released by the egg and toward the high-temperature areas of the woman’s reproductive tract where eggs are found.
13 The Food Men Eat Impacts Their Swimmers
A number of research studies have revealed that a man’s sperm responds to the foods that he chooses to eat. If anything, the things men eat on a daily basis play an important part in the overall health and development of their sperm.
For instance, DHA found in Omega-3 essential fatty acid that is found in foods like cod liver oil and Alaskan wild salmon, has shown to play an important part in the proper formation of sperm. According to a study published in The Journal of Biology and Reproduction in 2011, increasing DHA levels enhance the fluidity for sperm tail bending and the flexes needed for forward movement of sperm.
The same study reported that DHA also has the potential to improve sperm morphology in general. With an increase in DHA, a round-headed sperm can easily turn into a healthy, cone-shaped head packed full of vital egg-opening enzymes.
Regular consumption of vitamin C has also shown to improve sperm quality and offers protection to it against DNA damage. It is additionally known to prevent sperm from forming clumps, thereby making them more motile.
12 Progesterone Helps His Wigglers To Penetrate The Egg
Sperm are minuscule in size and with that, they need to endure a long journey to finally meet up with the female egg in the fallopian tube. In order to make it through this great journey, sperm obviously requires incredible energy. However, that is just half the battle for a sperm to create life.
Once sperm reaches the egg, also known as the ova, it is necessary for them to work to penetrate it. Frantically whipping their tails is obviously tiring for sperm and this is what progesterone helps them out with. In order to help sperm penetrate the egg, the female progesterone gives it a boost of energy so that they may start whipping their tails more ferociously.
When sperm whip their tails more passionately, it makes them swim faster and gives them the speed they need to meet the egg, almost like a sprint to the end of a race. This helps a sperm to penetrate the egg. The signal to work harder is received by the sperm cells through a protein called catsper - perfect example of “working together”, right?
11 His Little Soldiers Need Body Guards
Sperm doesn’t resemble any other cell in a man’s body. There are two different reasons why they are shaped that way. To begin with, their shape is meant to help get them where they need to go. Apart from that, they are also shaped that way because they only carry half as much DNA as other cells in the male body. It is for this reason that sperm is recognized as a foreign invader by the immune system – and the reason why they need protection as well.
There are specialized cells in a man’s testicles that protect sperm cells by creating a barrier between them and the immune system cells, which would otherwise attack and harm them. For the record, it is common for this barrier to be broken and sperm to be damaged in as many as 70% off all vasectomy patients.
10 Men Are ALWAYS Making Them
Yep, this factory NEVER closes. On the one hand, we have women who are born with all the eggs they will ever have. On the other hand, we have men whose bodies work in a different manner. This is because men continue to produce sperm all through their lives – every single day! Meaning they can father children up to the day they die.
Believe it or not, but men do not have any sperm at all when they are born. They actually don’t make any sperm till the time that they reach puberty. It is at this point that a persistent production of sperm begins. On an average, men make about 250 million sperm a day – that make it nearly 6,000 sperm every time his heart beats.
With time, sperm production continues to remain unabated and with such high production, it is necessary for men to continually copy their DNA.
9 Having Abnormal Wigglers Is Normal
The thing with the human sperm-making machinery is that it tends to get a bit lazy at times. There’s actually no other way to explain the fact that nearly 90 percent of the sperm contained within a man’s ejaculate is deformed. Some of the most common deformities found in sperm include having pin heads, two heads, huge heads, two tails and coiled tails etc.
Research suggests that this is the price we may be paying for practicing monogamy. For species in which more than one male’s sperm can get into a female at the same time, it is far more common for it to be more uniform in terms of its appearance. But when it comes to humans, we don’t really see Sam’s and Richard’s sperm making their way inside Rachel at the same time, right?
Now even though these defects have the potential to affect the ability of the sperm to reach and penetrate an egg, it isn’t uncommon for men to have a large percentage of misshapen sperm – that and well, morphology isn’t the only factor that decides whether a man is fertile or not.
8 It Takes Up To 75 Days For A Swimmer To Grow In The Testes
Believe it or not, but men are ALWAYS making sperm – that too a full 1,500 every second. Crazy, right? On average, it takes about two and a half months for these crazy little critters to develop inside a man’s scrotum. Seriously, this should be enough for any man to refrain from murdering them by the hundreds of millions during a hands on session when they're alone.
The fact of the matter is that men have nearly a hundred meters of seminiferous tubules in total in both testes. This is basically what allows for sperm cells to be created rather rapidly. However, it still takes nearly 75 days for the creation and development of an individual sperm cell – even with that, the testes are known to create around 85 million sperm cells on a daily basis.
Talk about the human body working overtime! If only everything in our lives was as efficient!
7 Wireless Technology Can Damage The Goods
Back in 2012, the findings of a study focused on the ways in which wireless devices such as mobile phones and laptop computers impact sperm were published in Fertility and Sterility. The researchers were interested in finding out if the Wi-Fi connection on laptops has the potential to decrease sperm health.
It was believed till then that the heat alone from a laptop can cause damage to sperm health. However, the results of this study showed that laptops connected to the internet through Wi-Fi damaged sperm through a non-thermal effect.
According to researchers, this might be because of the radiofrequency electromagnetic waves (RF-EMW) as free-radicals. Free-radicals can basically trigger oxidative damage to our cells – and this obviously includes sperm and female eggs. It is believed that free-radicals can lead to cell death, sperm immotility and may even reduce the integrity of the DNA.
6 Poor Lifestyle Choices Can Negatively Impact Fertility Health
Unhealthy lifestyles and habits for prolonged periods of time can contribute to lower male fertility. This isn’t just a claim – it has been proved through several research studies. Men who continue to smoke, drink alcohol, are obese and/or consume caffeine have been found to have lowered fertility due to a negative impact of their lifestyle choices over sperm health.
According to research, men who take to nicotine have poor sperm motility and morphology. What’s most interesting is that research found little difference in the amount of nicotine consumed daily – no matter how little, there was always a higher incidence of negative impact. With that, the regular consumption of alcohol also triggers lower sperm motility and concentration.
Obese men were also found to have slower sperm and lower concentrations of sperm as compared to non-obese men. So for couples looking to have some kids in the future, think about maybe curbing some bad habits while trying for a baby.
5 Swimmers Like To Chill
Believe it or not, but a man’s testicles are known to be about 7 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the rest of his body. If anything, the testicles work quite like a refrigerator as they trigger heat exchange from incoming and outgoing blood vessels.
According to research, it is necessary for healthier sperm to be kept cooler than other parts of the body. It is for this reason that some men around the world heat their testicles above 108 degrees Fahrenheit in order to make themselves sterile. Yes, no matter how awful it sounds, this is actually a male contraceptive method.
Also, men who work around a lot of chemicals and toxins are known to have increased levels of damaged sperm. For this reason, it is best for men wanting to get their partners pregnant in the near future to avoid them as much as possible.
4 There’s A Difference Between The Soldiers And Semen
Ahhh the countless people I’ve come across who use the terms semen and sperm interchangeably. What they don’t know is that sperm cells are just a component – semen is known to contain substances for the prostate together with a pair of rabbit ear-shaped organs found within the pelvis called the ‘seminal vesicles’.
Sperm cells are produced within the testicles and need a lot of high-octane fuel in order to whip their tails. This particular bit of fuel is acquired by them in the form of sugar fructose that is supplied to sperm cells by the seminal vesicles. (Now you know where all the sugar goes that he eats.)
Also, fluids released by the prostate contain chemicals that make it possible for semen to become a bit liquefied once it’s inside the female. If it weren’t for these chemicals, sperm would remain locked in place and unable to swim.
3 There Are 200 Million Competitors
Yes, I know it takes just a single sperm cell to fertilize a woman’s egg. However, the fact of the matter is that there’s stiff competition for that single sperm cell to gain that honor. If anything, the average ejaculate contains nearly 200 million sperm – wish each of them luck, eh?
So what is the reason behind men making all these millions of sperm? See the thing with sperm is that they are always in danger. Within the testicle, it takes nearly 75 days for them to go from a germ cell to a fully mature sperm cell that has the potential to fertilize an egg. All through this time, it requires the right temperature and proper nutrition for normal development.
After this, they get stored in a long tube known as the epididymis, waiting to get ejaculated. It is here that they produce a bit of an exhaust known as ‘reactive oxygen species’ that can damage their membrane. After a week, sperm cells that haven’t been ejaculated start dying.
Also, the sperm that make it to the female’s body, there’s another world of challenges. Hence, of all 200 million sperm, only a handful make it to the fallopian tube where the egg is released.
2 His Swimmers Can Survive For Days
Sperm has the potential to live for up to 5 days inside of a woman, under the right conditions. However, in most cases, it only gets to survive for about 2 days, so couples need to be more realistic in terms of their timings when trying to conceive.
When sperm is deposited into the woman’s vagina, it sets off on a journey up through the cervix on the way to the uterus. For this, the sperm has to swim through the mucous that is produced by the woman’s body. The reproductive tract is rather warm and moist and that is just the sort of environment that sperm needs to survive in there.
As long as the environment is right, the healthiest of sperm can easily live as long as five days in the reproductive tract – and as long as there are alive sperm inside a woman, a pregnancy is always possible.
1 They’re Tiny Little Monsters
If you want to see a sperm cell, you’ll need to use a microscope. Why so? Well for the simple reason that they are far too tiny for you to see with the naked eye. In case you’re wondering how tiny these pieces of DNA are, a single sperm cell measures around 0.002 inch from head to tail, or about 50 micrometers.
Needless to say, what sperm lack in size they make up for it in sheer numbers. Believe it or not, but if you line up all the sperm in one ejaculate end to end, they can easily stretch six miles.
Seeing sperm cells without a microscope is just about impossible. The tiniest object visible to the naked eye is about 0.1 mm in size – but sperm cells are around 0.05 millimeter, which means there’s no way you can look at them without a microscope. On the other hand, a human egg is nearly 30 times bigger and can be seen with the naked eye.