how much sperm to get pregnant

How Much Sperm Does It Take To Get Pregnant? 🤔

Worried that you might be producing too little semen? Sperm volume isn’t the only, nor most important, factor when trying for pregnancy. Here’s the lowdown on how much sperm is actually needed for pregnancy.

The popular conception of, well, conception is that it happens when one sperm survives the long and arduous journey required to finally meet the egg

But if it only takes a single sperm to do the job, why do people with a penis still need to expel between 1.5 ml (milliliters) to 7 ml of semen? That’s a whopping 15 million to more than 200 million sperm cells per ejaculation

Well, it turns out that it's not simply nature applying an overabundance of caution. To complicate matters, how much ejaculate you produce is not the only factor that determines your odds of a positive pregnancy test. 

Keep reading to find out how much sperm it takes to get your partner pregnant and other key sperm parameters you should look out for. 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended as medical advice. 

 

Sperm vs. Semen: Same Same, but Different

concept of a man's hands holding sperm

Before we dive in, let’s learn about the difference between sperm and semen: 

  • Sperm is the male germ cell that carries a genetic copy of the male, expressed as 23 chromosomes. This is exactly half the number of chromosomes required for a healthy baby to form, and when combined with the other 23 chromosomes contained in the egg, goes on to do just that. 
  • Semen is a fluid produced in the seminal vesicles, which are located in the testicles, prostate, and bulbourethral glands. Semen houses and nourish the sperm. 

Upon ejaculation, semen immediately thickens, and takes on the appearance of a gooey, white fluid. Within 15-20 minutes, ejaculated semen becomes more watery 💦 

If you’re wondering why semen liquifies after a while, it’s to bestow motility powers on sperm so they can start swimming toward the egg. Failure of semen to liquefy (read: semen stays too viscous) can, in fact, be a cause of male infertility

More fun facts about semen: 

  • Semen is mainly made up of fructose, a type of simple sugar that acts as an energy source for sperm. 
  • Semen includes other nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, potassium, magnesium, and zinc that are beneficial for sperm health. For example, zinc plays a crucial role in stabilizing sperm DNA.

The bottom line is that while it is your partner’s swimmers that make the journey to fertilize your egg, semen also plays an essential role in the nourishment, protection, and delivery of sperm. 

 

How Much Sperm Does It Take To Get Pregnant?

how much sperm it takes to get pregnant

The World Health Organisation (WHO) sets a reference range of between 1.5-7.5 ml for semen volume per ejaculation. With such a wide range (up to 5 times difference), we can infer the actual volume of semen isn’t as important in pregnancy as many thought it to be — surprise, surprise! 

When trying to conceive (TTC), what’s more important than semen volume, is actually sperm count, motility, and morphology. 

 

1. Sperm Count 

In a normal and healthy sperm count, at least 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen is present. Anything lower than that indicates a low sperm count, making it harder to get pregnant. 

 

2. Sperm Motility 

Sperm motility refers to the ability of these little guys to move in a relatively forward direction along the vaginal tract and fallopian tubes. Their destination? To meet and fertilize the egg. 

 

3. Sperm Morphology 

normal sperm vs abnormal sperm morphology

Last but not least, sperm morphology (AKA its appearance) can affect its motility prowess. 

Misshapen or improperly formed sperm cannot move in the right direction, or even at all. As such, the affected swimmers are unable to penetrate the egg. 

For the best chances of pregnancy (assuming there are no other infertility causes): 

  1. Semen discharged should contain at least 15 million sperm per milliliter, with 
  2. An overall sperm motility rate of 40% or higher 

 

Why Does It Take Millions of Sperm To Reach an Egg but Only One Is Needed To Fertilize It?

Even though there are millions of sperm at the start of the race to meet the egg, only around 200 of them will complete the journey

So, what happened to the rest?

Well, some of them may be ‘non-starters’ due to poor motility or morphology. 

Meanwhile, others may be lost along the way due to a number of biochemical and physical obstacles, such as: 

Once the “finalists” reach the egg, they begin weakening its shell. This continues until a single sperm manages to penetrate the egg and fertilize it. 

Voila! You now have a positive pregnancy test 🎉 

Even though there’s only one eventual “winner,” fertilizing the egg is a team effort for all the swimmers involved. Of course, the more viable sperm there is, the higher your chances of conception. 

 

How Do I Find Out if I Am Producing Enough Sperm To Get Pregnant?

man uses twoplus Fertility Sperm Count Test Kit to check his sperm count

Try ejaculating into a container and measure how much sperm there is with a syringe. You could also attempt to eyeball your semen volume — 5 ml is about how much liquid you can scoop up using a standard teaspoon. 

Or use twoplus’ at-home Sperm Count Test Kit, if you find it weird to do it in a cup in front of strangers. Plus, it’s definitely more accurate than using a syringe or eyeballing. 

If the results from your Sperm Count Test Kit require further testing, book an appointment for a semen analysis at a fertility clinic or certified laboratory. You will be able to find out in detail if your sperm are within the normal range. 

 

How To Increase Sperm Volume

At this juncture, you’d probably wondering, “How can I increase my or my partner’s sperm volume when trying to get pregnant?” 

Fret not, we’ve got your back, or more specifically, your swimmers, with these science-backed tips: 

1. Eat a Healthy Diet

A balanced and nutritious diet is key to one’s overall health, including male reproductive health. 

This is your sign to go for antioxidant-rich foods. Micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc, help enhance sperm quality and pregnancy rates in infertile men, per a study in the Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine Online.

Here are some foods you can consider for a sperm-friendly diet:

  • Fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, spinach, and broccoli 
  • Nuts and seeds, for example, almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds 
  • Whole grains like brown rice and oats 
  • Lean proteins — think poultry, fish, and legumes (for vegans and vegetarians) 

Meals for Fertility diet couple plan

Note: Meals for Fertility is currently only available in Singapore. 

Need help revamping your diet? You’d be interested in twoplus’ Meals for Fertility! The first-of-its-kind in Singapore, this fertility diet meal plan offers convenient doorstep delivery for modern TTC folks. 

Most importantly, Meals for Fertility is: 

  • Designed by Australia’s leading fertility dietitian and a Precision Nutrition-certified head chef 
  • Backed by science to contain all the nutrients you’ll need on your conception journey 

Say goodbye to meal preps and cleanups! 

 

2. Quit Smoking & Vaping 

Based on 2016 statistics, about one-third of people who ejaculates smoke cigarettes. Unfortunately, cigars and vaping devices only do a number on your sperm health. Here are two reasons why:  

  • The same systematic review and meta-analysis of over 5,000 men found that “cigarette smoking is associated with reduced sperm count and motility.” 

To improve your sperm health and bring up your semen volume, throw out the cigarettes and vaping devices. Not to mention, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. 

 

3. Cut Down on Alcohol 

link between alcohol consumption and fertility levels

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Did you know that male-identified folks drink more often and more heavily than their female counterparts in the United States? That’s only going to spell trouble for your semen volume, according to science. 

A recent 2023 study analyzed the relationship between alcohol consumption and male reproductive health. They found that heavy alcohol intake: 

  • Lowered semen volume during ejaculation 
  • Decreased the level of antioxidant enzymes in semen 
  • Reduced the overall levels of luteinizing hormone (vital to testosterone production) and testosterone (a male sex hormone) 

As such, cutting back on your alcohol consumption when trying to conceive may positively impact your sperm health, and by extension, semen volume. 

Pro Tip: Reducing your alcohol intake doesn’t mean you can’t have fun when trying to conceive. Try our recipe for a lemon “mojito” mocktail for when you’re craving an alcoholic beverage! 

 

4. Reduce Caffeine Intake 

link between caffeine and fertility

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While caffeine intake doesn’t directly affect the amount of sperm produced, research shows it could be a determining factor for pregnancy success. Male-identified folks who drank 272 milligrams (mg) of caffeine or more every day experienced lower pregnancy rates when going through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). 

Further scientific data indicated that significant caffeine intake daily elevated sperm DNA damage, which isn’t a good thing for those trying to get pregnant ASAP. 

 

5. Take CoQ10 Supplements 

If there’s one supplement you should take note of when trying for a baby, it’s Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). 

CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant naturally produced in the human body. It plays a key role in cellular energy production, including sperm cells. 

A small-scale study in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Reproductive Medicine observed CoQ10 supplementation in men with oligoasthenoteratozoospermia. It’s a male infertility condition characterized by: 

  1. Low sperm volume, 
  2. Poor sperm movement, and 
  3. Abnormal sperm appearance 

The results were promising. 

Participants significantly increased key sperm parameters for conception — sperm concentration, sperm motility, and antioxidant load in their semen. 

What’s most interesting is that the amount of CoQ10 supplemented correlated with the degree of improvement — those who consumed 400 mg of CoQ10 had better sperm quality than those who only took 200 mg every day. 

twoplus Fertility CoQ10 gummies support and promote egg quality sperm motility

If you’re shopping for CoQ10 supplements, give twoplus’ CoQ10 gummies a try! It’s suitable for people who ovulate, too. 

 

Does Low Semen Volume Mean I Can’t Get Pregnant?

No, low semen volume doesn't completely rule out the possibility of pregnancy. 

Just consider the success rate of “pulling out” before ejaculation. It’s effective in preventing pregnancies only about 78% of the time. This means that only a small amount of healthy, motile sperm is needed to get your partner with child. 

Semen volume also naturally decreases with age — one study found a near 30% decrease from 45 to 56 years old. Yet, many older men still manage to conceive without fertility treatments like IVF and intrauterine insemination (IUI). 

Nevertheless, low semen volume — less than 1.5 ml per ejaculation — may be a sign of low testosterone or other fertility or health problems. This definitely intensifies the difficulty of conception. 

 

3 Tips for Increasing Pregnancy Success Rates With Low Semen Volume

If you’re struggling to get pregnant with low semen volume, you might find the following tips useful for you and your partner. 

 

1. Make Sure Your Sperm Is in Tip-Top Shape

good quality sperm increase pregnancy success rates

Perhaps the most important tip for improving your success is to ensure your sperm is in tip-top health. Start by finding out important parameters such as your sperm count, motility, and morphology through an at-home test or in-clinic analysis. 

Keep in mind that unhealthy lifestyle habits can impact sperm quality, as mentioned earlier. Adopting a fertility-focused lifestyle may help you work toward a chance of pregnancy success earlier than later. 

And don’t forget to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist for personalized guidance on how to improve your sperm health! 

 

2. Check for Semen Non-Liquefaction

As mentioned earlier, semen thickens upon ejaculation, before turning watery again in as short as 20 minutes. 

However, in some cases, semen takes an abnormally long time to liquefy, which diminishes sperm motility. Common causes of semen non-liquefaction include inflammation of the prostate and/or the seminal vesicles. 

As dark as it might seem, this condition is reversible! Some healthcare professionals have found that it responds well to treatment with alpha-amylase

 

3. Reduce Semen Leakage

twoplus Sperm Guide reduce semen leakage

After sex, some semen could be lost through leakage from the vaginal tract. This reduces the number of viable sperm available for fertilization. Minimizing semen backflow post-sex may thus be helpful in maximizing your chances of conception with low semen volume.

But that doesn’t mean you have to stay in bed for an hour or two after intercourse. Or keep your legs raised against the headboard or in the air just to keep sperm in there! 

Instead of extra exercises after your main “workout,” try the twoplus Sperm Guide

As an at-home fertility aid for couples, the Sperm Guide is designed to retain more sperm near the cervix after ejaculation. 

Made of 100% medical-grade silicone, the Sperm Guide easily inserts into the vaginal tract before sex, and has a smooth flap for the penis to glide over during intercourse. It’s also biocompatible with sperm and has small grooves to help guide your swimmers toward the cervix. 

 

Try The Sperm Guide Tonight

 


When Trying To Conceive, Semen Volume Isn’t the Only Key Player

When it comes to getting pregnant, semen volume, although important, is just one piece of the puzzle. 

Besides ensuring your sperm volume is within the recommended range, you should also focus on sperm count, motility, and morphology. These are essential sperm parameters that significantly influence male fertility. 

To optimize your sperm health, live a fertility-focused lifestyle, starting at least three months before you actively try for a baby. While the specifics may vary from person to person, the main principles apply: Eat a balanced diet, avoid harmful vices like smoking, and take fertility supplements like CoQ10. 

For couples facing challenges due to low semen volume, take heart in knowing that a successful pregnancy is still possible. Improving your and your partner’s reproductive health through fertility-friendly practices can help increase your chances of becoming parents one day. 

 

Are you taking too long to conceive? Check out our Getting Pregnant 101 Guide for must-know TTC tips below & above 35 years old.