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Why Do Men Produce So Much Sperm?

why-do-men-produce-so-much-sperm-beli-baby

Ever wondered why men produce so much darn sperm, especially if only one of them will ultimately fertilize the egg? Well, it’s not because they don’t ask for directions (ha!). The real answer is short and simple: There are millions of sperm in normal ejaculate because it increases the likelihood that one will reach the egg and seal the deal. It begs the question, what exactly happens on the journey to the egg? Let’s review.

Key Takeaways

  • Normal sperm densities are between 15 and 200 million of sperm per milliliter of semen, but not all sperm boast optimal quality.
  • Researchers estimate that of the millions of sperm released in the vagina, just 250 make it to the egg and only 10% of these are capable of fertilization.
  • In addition to leading a healthy lifestyle, specific nutrients can help support sperm quality.

What is Healthy Sperm Production?

According to the Mayo Clinic, normal sperm densities are between 15 million to over 200 million sperm in a milliliter of semen (1), which means the average ejaculate has some 200 to 600 million sperm swimming around. It’s likely evolution based—the more sperm there are, the more likely a man can successfully fertilize a female. The high numbers also account for any abnormal sperm, which can have multiple issues that impede their ability to reach the egg.

How is sperm quality measured?

Sperm quality has several key parameters beyond sperm count:

  • Sperm motility. Motility describes sperm movement patterns. Some sperm swim in straight lines or big circles, some swim in all directions but forward, and some don’t move at all. A man is considered fertile if 40% of his sperm are motile (2).
  • Sperm morphology. This is the structure of the sperm. With their oval heads and long tails,  normal sperm resemble tadpoles. Abnormal sperm are associated with lower fertility rates and can often be traced to poor lifestyle habits (3).

In 2012, a study found that just one man in four had optimal sperm quality, and the situation likely hasn’t improved in the decade since (4). In fact, more recent research continues to sound the alarm over dwindling sperm count (5). That’s concerning for multiple reasons, not least of which is the risk that poor sperm quality poses to the health of the pregnancy and the baby. 

How many sperm will reach the egg?

But in terms of conception alone, it means that many millions of the sperms that make it out of the gate lack the necessary structure and ability to make it through the vaginal canal, let alone into the cervix. In fact, researchers estimate that just 250 sperm actually make it to the egg and just 10% of these are actually capable of fertilization (6). Then there’s the fact that evidence suggests the egg actually chooses the sperm it deems most acceptable, which is likely to be the healthiest with the most genetically compatible DNA (7). Clearly, healthy sperm—and lots of them—are really important. Just look at the perilous journey they have to navigate!

Upon release, sperm move from the vaginal canal and into the cervix, facing multiple obstacles along the way, before facing a major decision. Which way? Some sperm will travel to one fallopian tube, and the rest will swim to the other—but only one has the fertile egg. Those who choose correctly still have a chance at fertilization, but they remain in fierce competition with one another until one sperm is able to successfully penetrate the tough outer member, known as the zona pellucida, and fuse with the egg. At that point, the egg becomes impenetrable to other sperm, which will eventually die. The more sperm a man has, and the healthier the sperm is, the better the chances of a healthy conception. It’s as simple as that.

How Can Men Improve Sperm Count and Quality?

Low sperm count can be directly affected by multiple factors, including:

  • Age
  • Previous or existing medical conditions
  • Environmental factors
  • Lifestyle habits, including poor nutrition, smoking, recreational drug use (yes, including CBD), alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, excessive exercise, too much caffeine, high stress and poor sleep

While you can’t do much about your age, managing your health is certainly doable to a certain degree. In addition to embracing healthy lifestyle habits, men benefit from specific nutrients that support their fertility health. Beli Vitality™ for Men includes L-Carnitine, which can help improve low sperm concentration. According to research, low carnitine levels are associated with both decreased sperm count and poor sperm motility (8). Research also shows that vitamins D, C, E and CoQ10 have an enormous impact on sperm health, and a prenatal supplement like Beli makes it easy to access these key nutrients.

The Bottom Line

There's a reason most men have an army of sperm. These little tadpoles face a daunting journey, and only the healthiest prove successful. For fathers to be, the best scenario is sperm that nails every health parameter—and the right nutrients can help. In addition to a balanced diet, men benefit from a prenatal vitamin designed to support their fertility health, and we happen to have an excellent recommendation.


Article Resources

1. Low Sperm Count. (2022). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/low-sperm-count/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374591#

2. Healthy sperm: Improving your fertility. (2022). https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/fertility/art-20047584

3. Durairajanayagam, D. (2018). Lifestyle causes of male infertility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5922227/

4. Jørgensen, N et al. (2012). Human semen quality in the new millennium: a prospective cross-sectional population-based study of 4867 men. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22761286/

5. The decline in sperm count has become steeper since 2000. (2022). https://www.focusonreproduction.eu/article/ESHRE-News-Sperm-count-decline

6. Molecular biology of the cell. Fourth Edition. (n.d.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26843/

7. Fitzpatrick, J et al. (2020). Chemical signals from eggs facilitate cryptic female choice in humans. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.0805

8. Ahmed, S et al. (2011). Role of L-carnitine in male infertility. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22355991/

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

When you’re pregnant, of course, you’re told to limit your caffeine consumption. But what about when you’re trying to conceive? Can too much caffeine affect your chances of conception as a couple? It's a good idea to cut back—which means you need to be really clear about sneaky sources of caffeine in your diet.

Read More

Here at Beli, we’re staunch advocates of supporting men's fertility health in anticipation of fatherhood. In fact, our men’s prenatal vitamin, Beli Vitality for Men, is actually our flagship product. Today, we’re diving into the obvious and unexpected benefits of prenatal vitamins for men, starting with what actually happens when you start taking them.

Read More

Forbes Health recently reviewed our men's prenatal vitamins and we love author Leigh Weingus' take: "Beli Men Vitality Multivitamins first caught my eye because while I often see supplements that claim to improve fertility outcomes for women, I rarely see the same thing for men." We hear you, Leigh! Check out the full review here and read on for some highlights.

Read More

Everyone responds to supplementation (not to mention pregnancy!) differently, which is one reason that how you feel isn’t a clue into whether or not your prenatal vitamin is actually working. Instead, you need to be confident about the prenatal vitamin itself, and there are a few things you’ll want to look for.

Read More

We’re back with our second post in our “It Starts With The Sperm” mini series on the key roles sperm plays in conception, pregnancy and baby, and this time, we’re talking DNA. When it comes to male fertility, it’s not enough to have a high sperm count and top marks for motility and morphology. Without low levels of DNA fragmentation, a man’s fertility—along with his ability to successfully conceive with a partner—is affected.

Read More