Men produce sperm in their testes. It takes 90 days for sperm to be ready for their eventual journey.
Of the 2-4 million sperm that arrive in the vagina during sexual intercourse, over 99 percent are immediately lost by leakage from the vagina. Sperm can live inside a woman’s body for an average of two to three days, and potentially up to seven days.
Producing good quality sperm
For optimum production of sperm, the testes need to be kept cooler than the rest of the body. Men should avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear, trousers or shorts, as they can significantly reduce the quality of sperm produced. They force the testes to be kept too close to the body and air cannot circulate around to cool them off.
Similarly, research has shown that men who sit down for prolonged times, such as taxi drivers, or men whose testicles are exposed to excess heat, from a laptop computer for example, also have a lower quality of sperm, along with a lower sperm count.
Sperm production can also be affected by other factors such as diet, excessive alcohol, smoking, drugs, cycling and intensive exercise.
The size of a man’s penis does not make any difference to his ability to make a woman pregnant.
Top tips for male fertility
- Cut down on your alcohol intake.
- Quit smoking.
- Wear baggy trousers and loose underwear.
- Avoid taking hot showers and sitting in hot baths.
- Avoid saunas, Jacuzzis or sitting with a laptop on your lap.
- Don’t cycle or sit down for long periods.
- Eat five portions a day of fruit and vegetables.
- Exercise for at least 20-30 minutes three times a week.
- Avoid getting worked up – stress can have an effect on conception.
Seeking help with fertility
It can be difficult to know how long to wait before you see a doctor about your fertility.
It usually takes several months to conceive so if you’ve been trying for about a year (or 6 months if your partner is 35 or over) without success then it’s probably a good time to see your GP, either with your partner or separately.
If you find that either of you are becoming stressed because you haven’t conceived yet, then make an appointment sooner.
Worrying about conceiving is perfectly normal, but getting stressed may hinder your chances.
Being fit and healthy is an advantage if you're thinking about starting or adding to your family.
How do you know when you're pregnant? If you've been trying for a baby, there are a few ways to find out whether you're expecting.
Follow these simple steps to make sure that your body is in the best condition to for conception. If you have stopped using contraception you could be pregnant at any time.
If you've decided you're ready to start a family, find out more about getting your pregnancy off to the best start.
- Macdonald S, Magil-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ midwifery, 14th edition, London Balliere Tindall
- NICE (2013) Fertility: assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems, Clinical guideline 156, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, London NICE, 2013
- BMA (2013) Male factor infertility, London BMA, 2013, British Medical Journal Best PracticE http://bestpractice.bmj.com/best-practice/monograph/497/basics/pathophysiology.html (accessed 24 March 2014)
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2014. Next review date April 1st, 2017.