Top 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Sperm
We all know what the little guys are for and who’s responsible for making them, but the baby makers are packing a lot more than just the half the DNA package to make a new human being. Here are some surprising facts which are going to make you look at the little fella’s in a completely different light.
10. Fertility at the Speed of Light
Human sperm travels at the staggering rate of up to 4 millimeters per minute, but many are as slow as 1 millimeter per minute. You have to put this into perspective; human sperm are only 55 millionths of a millimeter or 55 microns in length, so a millimeter is a pretty big deal to the mini-me’s.
The average length of the journey to the fallopian tubes is 175 millimeters, which means the Road Runners of the team can get there in 45 minutes, but in practice the journey takes anything up to 3 days.
9. A 25% Shot at the Title
Even a fertile couple with no conception issues and practicing unprotected sex with ejaculation in the female have only a 1–in-4 chance of conceiving. If you wear jockey shorts to keep the meat and two veg neatly packaged, instead of those airy boxer shorts, your chances start dwindling rapidly.
Human reproduction is notoriously fickle and very inefficient; in fact, it’s a wonder any of us got here to begin with.
8. Sperm are Like Men – No Sense of Direction
One of the reasons for sperm taking so long to find the egg is because they have no sense of direction. There are chemical signatures released by the egg to act as a “guide” to the sperm, but have you ever known of a man to take directions from a woman?
Only 1 in 5 sperm will start swimming in the right direction after ejaculation, which accounts for that age old bedroom debate about who will be sleeping in the sticky patch after making love.
7. Your Biological Clock is Ticking – Not Yours, Girls – The Guys!
The biological alarm clock may be ticking for women, but they have a much longer lie in life’s fertility bed than men do; for guys the biological alarm goes off much earlier. Women enter menopause sometime in middle age, but guys start a rapid decline in the quantity and quality of their sperm when they hit the ripe old age of 25!
6. New York vs. Los Angeles
Gangsta rappers may have their West coast/east coast rivalry, but there is one thing there is no dispute over. For reasons no-one understands, New York men have a 50% increased sperm count than guys from Los Angeles. Go Giants!
5. Never Get Stuck in Reverse
Sperm can only swim in one direction – forwards.
4. Size Does Matter
The sperm of a fruit fly can be as long as the body of the male fly, about 1.1 mm. On the other hand, of the vast number of mammals, humans included, have one of the smallest sperm cells, measuring only 40 microns long. Rats produce one of the largest sperm at 170 microns long.
If there was a prize for biggest sperm in nature, it would go to Drosophila bifurca, a tiny fruit fly whose coiled sperm would measure more than 2 inches long if straightened out. That’s 1,000 times longer than an average human sperm. (Source)
“To put that into perspective, if humans made sperm that long and you took a six-foot man and stood him on the goal line of a football field, his sperm would stretch out to the 40-yard line,” said Adam Bjork, a Ph.D. student at Syracuse University in New York.
3. Time to Mature
Sperm take 2 ½ months to grow to maturity in the testes. The question then becomes where are all these little guys hanging out down there? The sperm nursery and warehouse is the epididymis which found on top of the testes.
2. How Come There is Enough Room for All the Little Guys Down There?
The majority of ejaculate is not sperm; sperm only accounts for around 5% of your population juice, with the rest being made up of fluids which contain a combination of nutrients and protective substrate to help the little guys on their way to the egg.
1. Eat Your Veggies
How healthy a man is has a direct bearing on his fertility. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables, avoiding junk food and maintaining a healthy weight, lots of fresh air and exercise, taking vitamin supplements, getting plenty early nights and abstaining from tobacco and alcohol, are all guaranteed to give a man a higher sperm count. Not only will he produce more sperm, but they will be much more energetic and thus more likely to be The One – the only issue with this is your offspring are likely to be very boring.
- Biologists discover ‘control centre’ for sperm production (news.bioscholar.com)
- Biologists discover ‘control centre’ for sperm production (sciencedaily.com)
- Sperm cells mapped for the first time (blogs.abc.net.au)
- Individual Sperm Genomes Sequenced for First Time (sott.net)
- It DOES make a difference which wins the race: Scientists scan 100 sperm from one man – and find huge DNA differences (investmentwatchblog.com)
- Scientists hope sperm cell breakthrough will diagnose fertility problems (scotsman.com)
- Scientists sequence entire genome of human sperm cell (mnn.com)
- Stanford researchers first to determine entire genetic sequence of individual human sperm (eurekalert.org)
- Sperm cell genome sequenced for first time (telegraph.co.uk)
- Male-producing sperm ‘paralysed’ (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Glow in the dark sperm revolutionizes biology by allowing us to observe the unobservable [Mad Biology] (io9.com)
- What Is Sperm? (brainz.org)