How long can sperm live inside the female body and why does this matter?

How long can sperm live inside the female body and why does this matter?

You might have thought this was just a ‘fun-fact’ but, knowing how long sperm lives in the woman’s body gives a real insight into how many days in a cycle you could conceive.

You had probably assumed, like so many of us, that once the sperm are ejaculated, they have a very short lifespan in which they must win the race to the egg. However, sperm can actually live for up to 5 days inside the woman’s body after being ejaculated. This doesn’t mean sperm can survive for long periods outside the woman’s body, as soon as they become dry, they would die.

The egg on the other hand can only survive for up to 24 hours after its release (ovulation). It’s important to remember, sperm cannot fertilise an egg that isn’t there. So, having sex up to 5 days before the egg is released (ovulation) can lead to conception.

This gives a ‘fertile window’ of 6 days (sperm survival of 5 days and 24 hours during which the egg is released and dies). A woman can calculate the day that she ovulates so that she knows when this fertile window is. Check out #cyclesavvy to find out how to identify your fertile window.

Even if you do not know the date of ovulation, having sex every 2-3 days will help to maximise your chances of getting pregnant because by doing this you will ensure you have sex during the fertile window.

Something else which you may not have considered when trying to conceive (TTC) is fertility lube. It’s not just to help you have fun in the bedroom, fertility lubricants are developed to mimic a woman’s natural cervical mucus and provide an optimal pH to support the sperm on their journey towards the egg.

To take you through the steps you could take if you are trying to get pregnant and to help you prepare your body for pregnancy. Check out our couple's guide to getting pregnant.

Check out our #spermbanter video with Professor Allan Pacey, where he explains the journey sperm takes following sex, and why this is important when trying for a baby. 



1. WebMD - Infertility and Reproduction [Online content acceded 20.02.20]
2. NHS - Fertility in the menstrual cycle [Online content acceded 20.02.20]
3. NHS - When am I most fertile during my cycle [Online content acceded 20.02.20]

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