Firstly, sperm doesn’t actually swim straight – at least not all the time. People believe that when the sperm gets ejaculated from the penis into the vagina, it swims straight through the fallopian tube to fertilise an egg.
But it’s not as simple as it sounds. About 300 years ago, a theory was propounded that in every sperm head inhabited a wholly formed mini human. Totally ridiculous right! But it was regarded as a significant scientific breakthrough back then.
Thanks to changing times and advancement in modern science, experts have been able to increase their knowledge of the sperm. Though most of us still believe in some pretty odd sperm myths.
Sperm swim like Olympic athletes: this is the most common of them all. It is said that around 300 million Heroic sperm swims in a death-defying race against each other to be the bravest little sperm that fertilises the egg. Not True.
Sperm doesn’t really move straight most times. The movement of the sperm is known as motility, and it can be classified into three groups;
- Progressive Motility: the sperm’s ability to actively move in straight lines or large circles.
- Non-progressive Motility: Any other pattern except forward.
- Immobility: No movement at all.
Robert D. Martin, in an essay for Aeon, described its route as “more like a challenging military obstacle course” than a standard race. Even then, the sperm needs a lot of boost from the female reproductive system to help them get to the finish line.
Most of the motility is done by the uterus muscles. It lures the sperm towards the egg, through the fallopian tube.
Thicker sperm is more fertile: There’s a fine line between thicker semen and thicker sperm when there is thicker semen it usually implies that there is a large amount of sperm or a high concentration of irregularly shaped sperm.
But they still need protection from the female productive system. When the sperm enters the vagina, they mix up with cervical mucus. The job of the cervical mucus is to;
- Keep them safe from the vagina’s acidity as well as.
- Reject the ones whose motility or shape can hinder them from reaching the egg.
How is this achieved? The cervix wall expands, cervix glands or crypts increase in size and number to store more sperm. The cervix mucus barrier then thins out allowing the sperm to pass through easily.
Sperm can only live for a short period after ejection: Not Always! The lifespan of the sperm depends on where it lands after discharge. The ones that make it into the vagina have a lifespan of up to 5 days. This is as a result of the protection offered by the cervical mucus and cervical crypts.
But if sperm is exposed to dryness, they die. Ejaculated sperm that falls on cold, dry objects may die after a few minutes. Though in very rare occasions, they may last up to 30 minutes. They may die quicker in hot tub or bath due to the heat or chemicals in the water.
Sperm stays healthy and fertile for the entire period of a man’s life: This is one of the oldest and most believed myths. It is thought that while there is a limited amount of eggs (which is entirely true), a man never runs out of sperm in his entire lifespan.
Hold on, spermatogenesis (otherwise known as sperm production) does occur indefinitely. But as to the quality and motility of the sperm, it declines with age. In fact, children are more likely to inherit genetic mutations from older fathers. About four times faster than inheriting from their mothers.
According to a 2017 Icelandic survey carried out among 1.4 million people in Sweden discovered a recurring linear relationship between a man’s age and the possibility of his children being born with a genetic mutation that neither party possesses.
Briefs is a NO-NO for sperm count: It is believed that tight undies decrease sperm count, while loose-fitting boxers help keep everything at an optimum temperature for the production of sperm. But your choice of underwear has a very little effect on your sperm. A 2016 study had noticed slight differences in sperm count based on the choice of underwear.
But a recent study conducted in 2018 made scientific waves when they discovered that men who wore Briefs had 17 per cent less sperm count than men who wore boxers.
But the author sternly warned that their findings didn’t cater for factors that could affect spermatogenesis such as what fabric undies are made of or type of pant.
Also, the body may atone for extra testicle heat by supplying a little extra follicle-stimulating sperm-formulating hormone. So, wear what makes you comfortable because boxers are only a little bit more sperm-friendly than Briefs.
Now that we have clearly distinguished between facts and myths, it is imperative to note that these myths were unfounded beliefs of ancient sperm exceptionalism as such they shouldn’t be taking seriously because most of them tend to hide the fact that conception, like sex, is a team activity.
Relying on them could lead to a lot of misconception and noxious presumptions such as the false notion of picturing women as docile receptacles of sperm rather than equal partners in sexual intercourse, passing blame on each other for not “trying harder” when trying to conceive, feeling inferior due to low sperm count when there are other factors to consider.
Conception and sex aren’t sporting activities or a game of muscles and strength; they are a team’s activity in which both parties have an equal footing as such, it shouldn’t be regarded as something only one partner should feel concerned about.