How Long Does Sperm Live Outside The Body?

Sperm cells are the male reproductive cells.

They are known to be the smallest cells in the body and are produced in huge numbers.

But how long do they live?

Well, the honest answer is: it depends on the environment they are placed in.

Let me explain:


If sperm cells are frozen and stored, they would definitely live longer than when left on a table to dry out.

Here’s how long sperm cells live for in different conditions:

Outside the body: A few minutes to an hour.

When sperm cells are kept outside the body on materials like a piece of cloth, a toilet seat or on bed sheets, they do not live very long. The semen often dries out very fast in minutes and sperm cells die.

For example, if sex occurs in a bathtub and a man ejaculates into the water, it is theoretically possible for sperm cells to travel into the vagina and possibly lead to pregnancy. It is important to know that while this can happen, it is extremely unlikely as the heat from the water should quickly kill sperm cells in minutes.

Also, when in a condom, sperm cells do not live long either, they live for just about 20 minutes.

In the body of a woman: Up to 5 days.

Sperm cells are known to live up to 5 days in the body of a woman. When ejaculation occurs during sexual intercourse, sperm cells leave the man’s body in the semen and pass through the cervix of a woman into her womb.

Sperm cells may then swim to the fallopian tubes where fertilization of the female’s egg occurs. 

The probability of pregnancy occurring this way is dependent on factors like:

  •  How healthy the sperm cells are
  • The quantity of semen
  • The day of the woman’s menstrual cycle

Frozen in a laboratory: Several years.

With advancement in technology, sperm cells can be stored at sub-zero temperatures for several years.

At very low temperatures, there is very little biological activity and sperm cells do not lose their energy reserves. Also, they are not prone to attacks by micro-organisms.


Sperm banks exist where sperm cells are stored for several years and remain viable to help people desirous of children.

Read Next: How Much Sperm Does A Man Produce In A Day

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Omiete Charles-Davies, MBBS

Dr. Omiete Charles-Davies graduated from the University of Lagos with a degree in medicine and surgery. He is a licensed medical doctor and has worked in different private and government-owned hospitals as a general medical practitioner. For fun, he loves to travel and experience new cultures.