If you’ve just had a close encounter of the sexy kind, you might be wondering whether sperm can live outside the body. There’s no curve ball quite like playing it safe in the bedroom only to find out you weren’t safe enough. Check out the facts below about sperm living outside the body to hedge your risk, so to speak.
- Sperm, like any other small portion of the human body, are individual cells. They go through a cellular life cycle and die relatively quickly. In the male body, sperm last about ten weeks before they become ready for action. If the mature ones aren’t used in a day or so, your body breaks them down naturally inside your testicles.
- Sperm generally thrive under very specific conditions. Because of the way sex works, sperm aren’t really designed to be exposed to the elements. Their directive is to travel straight from the male penis into the female vagina. And as you should probably know, sex generally doesn’t involve much airflow.
- Outside the body, sperm don’t do very well. They need the perfect acidity, moisture, and temperature to thrive. If they don’t get it, sperm’s life span is shortened to a matter of minutes. Sperm won’t live for long when they’re in fabric or dried out, for example. So don’t worry. A paper towel or something similar with sperm on it will not lead to pregnancy in a woman unless it’s an extremely exceptional situation.
- There are situations when sperm exposed to air can still cause pregnancy. If you ejaculate on a woman, specifically very close to her vagina, there is a small chance that a few sperm will make their way in and lead to pregnancy. This usually isn’t what causes pregnancy in couples who use the withdrawal method of birth control, though. It is the pre-ejaculate, or the fluid that precedes the sperm and may contain a few of them, that is usually the culprit.
- The lesson to take away: withdrawal is simply not a good contraceptive method. Your sperm, if released outside the vagina, probably isn’t going to lead to pregnancy. But the exposure of sperm containing pre-ejaculate to the inside of the vagina might. In fact, four out of 100 women will become pregnant within a year even if you use the withdrawal method perfectly according to the Family Planning Council. So, if you’re not ready to be a parent, use a real contraceptive.
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