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Blog /How Much Sperm Do You Need to Get Pregnant?

How Much Sperm Do You Need to Get Pregnant?

In the TTC community, we know sperm count matters, but how much is really needed for conception? Technically, one is all it takes: just a single sperm is required to fertilize an egg. However, for conception to occur, that sperm must first successfully reach and penetrate the egg within the female reproductive tract. And the amount of sperm needed to get pregnant also varies depending on several factors, including:

  • the health of the sperm, 
  • the timing of insemination, and 
  • the overall fertility of the individual(s) involved. 

How many sperm do you need for conception? 

During typical ejaculation, millions of sperm–39 million on average, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)–are released into the female reproductive system (2021). This large number of sperm increases the chances of successful fertilization. However, many of these sperm may not survive the journey through the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes, and only a small percentage will reach the vicinity of the egg. Then, of that small percentage, hopefully a lucky sperm will find the egg and initiate conception.

Does the volume of the ejaculate matter? 

Sometimes when people are trying to get pregnant, they may worry that the amount of fluid in their partner’s ejaculate or the sperm sample is too small. The threshold for what the WHO considers a good ejaculate volume is just 1.5 milliliters, or one third of a teaspoon. So very little baby-making fluid is necessary for successful baby-making. What does matter is the health and numbers of sperm within that ejaculate.

So what else should I know about sperm health?

The likelihood that sperm results in conception varies based on different factors:
  • sperm motility (the sperm’s ability to move effectively)
  • sperm morphology (it’s shape and structure), and 
  • sperm count (total number of sperm in a given sample) 
Higher sperm counts and better sperm quality increase the likelihood of successful fertilization. 

What can help increase sperm volume?

If you are concerned about sperm health–your own, your partner’s, or your donor’s–your primary care physician can order a semen analysis or you can purchase a semen analysis kit to do at home. Depending on the results of that testing, and on whether you still have concerns, you can then seek the support of a urologist trained to assess sperm health.

The team at Mosie Baby recommends talking to a fertility specialist if you don’t get that big fat positive pregnancy test after 4-6 cycles of trying. 


For more reading about sperm and fertility:


References

Cooper TG, Noonan E, von Eckardstein S, Auger J, Baker HW, Behre HM, Haugen TB, Kruger T, Wang C, Mbizvo MT, Vogelsong KM.World Health Organization reference values for human semen characteristics. Hum Reprod Update. 2010 May-Jun;16(3):231-45. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmp048. Epub 2009 Nov 24. PMID: 19934213.

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