Top 5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Sperm

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Every male has to have high-quality sperm—and just enough of them. After all, that’s the only way to procreate and increase the world’s population. If you’re curious about your swimmers—or your partner’s sperm—read on to find out the top five facts you probably didn’t know about these pint-size dudes.

5 Manliness Does Not Equal More Sperm

Few things turn a woman on as much as a deep manly voice. Broad shoulders, rippling muscles and that whole tall, dark and handsome package make any girl swoon. But all those manly testosterone effects aren’t especially good for your floating mini-mes. Having a higher level of testosterone can possibly slow down the production of high-quality sperm. So, even though you might have a better chance of bedding a woman if you’re big and strong, you might have a harder time knocking her up. That scrawny guy with the high-pitched voice you used to pick on in high school has higher odds of getting a girl pregnant—that’s assuming he gets the opportunity to go all the way.

4 Humans Don’t Have the Biggest Sperm

Sure, you probably assume that your sperm are larger than the little swimmers of a smaller critter or insect, but that isn’t always the case. A human sperm is only 40 microns long—that’s less than 0.05 millimeter, according to Dr. Charles Lindemann of Oakland University. A rat’s sperm is roughly four times that size at 0.2 millimeter. The sperm of a fruit fly, those tiny, annoying insects that come buzzing around during hot summer months, is 1.1 millimeters long. This is more than 25 times the length of a human’s sperm. It’s no wonder rats and fruit flies tend to breed like crazy.

3 They’re Not Always Pretty

The pictures of sperm that you’ve seen are all drawn out to show perfect little swimmers striving to reach that big golden egg off yonder. You’d like to think that they’re all identical, each one having a big fighting head and long flowing tail, fully capable of knocking that egg’s door down and making a baby. In reality, though, your sperm aren’t all that pretty. Only about one-third of your pint-size boys actually look like that, explains Dr. Craig Niederberger, head of the department of urology in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The majority of your sperm are misshapen—have two heads, a kink in the neck, a coiled tail or multiple tails. These oddball floaters might not be the ones to be proud of though—whether or not they will get a woman pregnant is still under review.

2 Humans Don’t Always Have More

On average, a single ejaculation has as around 180 million sperm—but some have as much as 400 million. Just to put those numbers into perspective for you, a cute fuzzy cottontail bunny produces about 280 million sperm each time he, well, humps like a rabbit. Still think men are the almighty creatures? Sheep put out 1 billion little guys each time they ejaculate, while pigs release 8 billion swimmers. Suddenly your measly couple hundred million sperm doesn’t seem like so much.

1 They Travel in Large Herds

You probably already know that even a small amount of semen has a ton of sperm moving around, but you might not realize how many millions of swimmers are actually in there. A typical ejaculation is roughly 2 to 6 milliliters of total seminal fluid, WebMD reports. If your sperm count is in the normal range, you should have a minimum of 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen, although a lot of men have many, many more than that.

Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

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