Here's how long sperm actually lasts for after sex
Brought to you by ellaOne.
They stick around longer than you'd think.
A lot of numbers are thrown out there about the lifespan of sperm but here's the scoop: sperm can live as little as a couple of hours or as long as five days after sex. Yes, you read that right, FIVE WHOLE DAYS!
Basically, it all depends on their environment.
Once inside the vagina, the lifespan of the sperm depends on the woman's vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes. Without fertile cervical fluid, sperm won't survive longer than a few hours inside the vagina or uterus (if they make it that far).
Many sperm die off in the very acidic vaginal canal within the first 12 hours. However, once they are in cervical fluid, they can survive for a longer period of time.
Unlike the vagina, cervix, and uterus, the fallopian tubes don't treat sperm as hostile intruders. If they can make it past the uterus into the fallopian tubes using fertile cervical fluid channels, they can live there, waiting for the release of an egg.
If you have sex a few days before you ovulate, there's a chance that you could get pregnant. On average, each time a man ejaculates he releases nearly 100 million sperm but it takes just one sperm to fertilise a woman's egg. Factor in that we actually have no way of knowing when we are going to ovulate link to ovulation article and there’s never been more reason to be careful with your contraception or emergency contraception if you aren’t ready to get pregnant just yet.
If you need emergency contraception you can head to the pharmacy to get the morning after pill after a quick consultation with the pharmacist. You don’t have to get a prescription from your doctor, although it is possible to go down this route too.
Some other facts on sperm include:
- On a dry surface, such as clothing or bedding, sperm are dead by the time the semen has dried.
- In water, such as a warm bath or hot tub, they'll likely live longer because they thrive in warm, wet places. However, the likelihood of getting pregnant as a result of coming into contact with sperm that's been in water is extremely low but not impossible.
Brought to you by ellaOne.
ellaOne is an emergency contraceptive pill that is available from pharmacies without a prescription. No other morning after pill is more effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex.
ellaOne consists of one tablet which should be taken as soon as possible, but no later than 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Each tablet of ellaOne contains 30 mg ulipristal acetate. Always read the label.