What are sperm? How long do they live? Are they male and female? How do they implant in a womans egg?
The term sperm is derived from the Greek word (σπέρμα) sperma (meaning “seed”) and refers to the male reproductive cells.
The sperm cell consists of a head, a midpiece and a tail. The head contains 23 chromosomes which will join the 23 chromosomes of the female egg, there are also enzymes used for penetrating the female egg. The midpiece contains a filamentous core which helps the sperm metabolize (recharge) during the journey through the womans cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. The tail helps propel the sperm forward for the journey up to the womans fertile egg.
Study findings have showed a range of 42 to 76 days from the time of sperm production to ejaculation in normal men. Men are born with a set number of underdeveloped sperm cells which are not technically sperm, yet. These cells eventually mature at puberty and they will create the reproductive type cells. Healthy males will create sperm their entire adult life from these underdeveloped cells.
The process is called spermatogenesis.
During spermatogenesis the underdeveloped cells make exact copies of themselves. Each cell will make four copies that will then mature into reproductive cells. A woman’s egg will always carry the X chromosome (female chromosome), it is the males sperm which determines the sex of a child. Sperm can carry either X or Y chromosomes. Sperm carrying the Y chromosome (male) are able to swim faster than those with the X chromosome, but also die off faster. A couple trying for a male baby who know the womans peak time of fertility could make love as ovulation occurs to give the male sperm the best chance at reaching the egg first. A couple trying for a female baby could make love in the days leading up to ovulation while the woman is fertile and abstain the day of ovulation to give the slower hardier female sperm a chance to reach the egg as it becomes ripe.
Sperm can live for up to five days during a womans fertile time of the month when she is producing favorable cervical mucus to protect the little swimmers. This means they can be resting inside of a womans cervix 5 days in advance of ovulation and still fertilize the egg. The egg, unfertilized, has a life span of only about 24 hours. If a woman is infertile the sperm are able to live for a maximum of thirty minutes the vagina. If left in the air sperm have an even shorter life span of a few minutes.
If the sperm does indeed reach a fertile egg it will meet the egg in a specific portion of the tube, called the ampullar-isthmic junction, it rests for another thirty hours.
Fertilization — sperm union with the egg — occurs in this portion of the tube (shown to the left as being cut for a tubal ligation). The fertilized egg then begins a rapid descent to the uterus. The period of rest in the tube appears to be necessary for full development of the fertilized egg and for the uterus to prepare to receive the egg.
A membrane surrounding the egg, called the zona pellucida, has two major functions in fertilization. First, the zona pellucida contains sperm receptors which are specific for human sperm. Second, once the membrane has been penetrated by the sperm, it becomes impermeable to penetration by other sperm.
Following penetration, a series of events set the stage for the first cell division. The single-cell embryo is called a zygote. Over the course of the next seven days, the human embryo undergoes multiple cell divisions in a process called mitosis. At the end of this transition period, the embryo becomes a mass of very organized cells, called a blastocyst. It’s now believed that as women get older, this process of early embryo development is increasingly impaired due to diminishing egg quality.
What are the best ways to cultivate healthy sperm?
* Eating a proper balanced diet
*Reduce stress. Stress interferes with reproductive hormone production
*Exercise regularly. The body works as a whole. Exercise brings oxygen and nutrients to the entire body
*Maintain healthy body weight. Too much or too little body fat interferes with the production of necessary reproductive hormones
It is best to avoid:
*Chemical toxins of every kind
*Recreational drugs and prescription Drugs. They both have the same harsh effects and consequences on the reproductive system and body as a whole
When thinking of the components of the reproductive system, male or female it is worth while to look at our lives and ask what building blocks we are surrounding ourselves with that have effects on our bodies and minds. The reproductive system is a great marker of our overall health, if you are interested in conceiving a child consider cleansing and properly building up your body so the strongest and healthiest of sperm, egg, uterus and state of mind can be present during conception to give your future child a healthy running start in this life.
Credit for some content in this article goes to UCSF Medical Center.