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The Lifecycle of Sperm: Sperm Development

Medical Contribution by Cori Tanrikut, M.D.
Medical Contribution by Cori Tanrikut, M.D.

The Sperm Development Cycle Takes about 74 Days

Most people probably don’t give much thought to sperm development until perhaps conception appears that it’s taking longer than it should. The good news, there are some very tangible lifestyle changes that men can make to improve their sperm health and overall fertility.

It is generally known that most men produce millions of new sperm every day. However, you might not know that these new sperm take about 2 ½ to 3 months to fully mature. You also might not realize that when sperm are initially formed within the testicles, they lack the ability to swim forward or fertilize an egg until they make their way through the reproductive tract.

Keeping Sperm Healthy

Sperm takes about 74 days to mature.

Sperm are living cells within the male body and are subject to whatever conditions the rest of the body is exposed to throughout their development cycle. Extreme temperatures, smoking, drug use, and poor diet can all impact the quality of sperm. For this reason, men looking to increase the chances of conception should consider making healthful lifestyle changes. SGF reproductive urologist and male fertility specialist, Dr. Cori Tanrikut, tells her patients that a “heart-healthy” lifestyle is a “sperm-friendly” lifestyle: eating a good diet, exercising regularly and moderately to maintain a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco and marijuana use, and consuming alcohol and caffeine in moderation are wise choices. Because of the lifecycle of sperm production, once a lifestyle change has been made—such as quitting smoking—it takes about 2 ½ to 3 months for those healthier sperm to appear in the ejaculate.

It’s also important to note that too much heat on or near the testicles can be impair sperm production. Sperm counts and quality can be adversely affected by hot baths, hot tubs, and long trips to the sauna or steam room. Also, be mindful to not rest laptops directly on the lap but instead place a pillow or book in between.

Equally important, men should consider that use of medications for treatment of “low T” (testosterone) in an attempt to address symptoms such as low energy or decreased sex drive may actually contribute to a low sperm count. Men should always be under the advisement of a physician if considering medication for treatment of low testosterone.

Read more: Sperm Quality Checklist for Improving Sperm Count

More about Sperm Development

When considering conception, it is also important to optimize the numbers of sperm available to reach and fertilize the egg. In this effort, it is recommended that men abstain from ejaculating for 2 to 3 days. Men who ejaculate more often have lower volumes of ejaculate and lower sperm counts in each ejaculate. This rule goes for couples who are trying to conceive on their own as well as men that are producing a semen sample for fertility treatments, such as IUI or IVF. Find out more about male fertility and sperm production here.

Read more: Tips for Improving Male Infertility Naturally

Read more: Diagnosing and Overcoming Male Factor Infertility


To schedule a semen analysis, which is recommended at the very start of the infertility work up, visit our website to find a location convenient to you.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of November 2020.


To schedule a virtual consultation with an SGF physician, please call our New Patient Center at 1-888-761-1967 or submit this brief form.


  1. khan

    April 24, 2019 - 1:04 am


    I use chewable tobacco. We went through two back to back miscarriages (first trimister) in one year. Can it be associated with my tobacco addiction? Each time doctor said it was chromosomal imbalance and embryo stopped growing

  2. Sudipta Paul

    February 16, 2019 - 3:26 am

    But you should also refer to the period cycle of your partner

  3. Seyi Akoms

    January 11, 2019 - 6:11 am

    I take cannabis a lot anytime I want to av fun, it makes my ejaculation more enjoyable and easy flow. can this hinder my woman for having delay to be conceived? we married for the past 6yrs and we av gone for series of med checkup. pls your advice

  4. joshua bremnes

    November 10, 2018 - 5:17 pm

    please I need your reply right now…
    actually I masturbate like 2 days ago..
    now I want to impregnate my girlfriend. Is it possible for her to get pregnant if I have sex with her.
    since it takes 2.5 and 3 months for the sperm mature

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      November 14, 2018 - 2:44 pm

      Hi there,

      Yes, our urologists recommend waiting 2-3 days after ejaculating before trying to conceive. We hope this helps your journey! If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist, please contact 1-888-761-1967.

  5. here

    April 6, 2018 - 10:42 am

    Thanks a lot for the good article here

  6. sniper

    March 5, 2018 - 9:14 pm

    Hello sir, it will be helpful for me if u reply,
    I have a hibit of masturbating from my teenge and i cannot control it till now i am newly mrried now
    And my sperm count too low and
    Thin and lightly wight in colour
    I i have intercourse with my partner after 72 days of not ejaculating
    Can i get a baby with all sufficient energy in it and masterbuting continuously like 3-5 times in a week really effects the growth??
    Please answer….

  7. anthony

    February 25, 2018 - 10:15 pm

    does it mean that, we have to abstain from ejaculating for 74 days inorder for the sperm to mature?

    • Declan

      November 7, 2018 - 8:42 am

      it would be in a process where some mature everyday

    • Renae Collins

      April 13, 2019 - 2:14 pm

      No your sperm are mature all the time The only way u have to wait 3 months is if you want to fix something thats wrong with your sperm like if u have low sperm count or motility and are taking meds to fix it u would have to take the meds for 3 months before your sperm would be good. But a man get a girl pregnant any time. After 2-3 days u have more sperm cause it takes a few days to build back up But u could also have sex every single day and get a girl pregnant

  8. Jen Joe

    January 30, 2018 - 9:00 pm

    Please answer me as me and wife are eagerly waiting to conceive a baby.

    We are trying to conceive. We are sexually active and make love almost every other day. If it takes sperms 74 days to mature then am I ejaculating immature sperms? Does our body have a system to hold immature seprms from ejaculating? Should we stop having sex for some days and engage on the peak days?

    Please advise.

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      February 15, 2018 - 5:25 pm

      This article can help with your questions about abstaining for mature sperm.

  9. Graham

    August 11, 2017 - 9:17 pm

    Apparently heavy drinking by a prospective father is associated not only with infertility, but also with risk for birth defects. If a drinker quits, does that risk decline after the new sperm form? Would it be wise for such a person to wait those 74 days before trying to conceive? And does the man’s age play any role? Thanks!

  10. Shady Grove Fertility

    August 1, 2017 - 11:32 am

    Males continuous produce sperm. At the same moment in which they have brand new sperm they have sperm that have several days and several weeks old. However, it takes approximately 74 days for those new sperm to reach maturation, developing the ability to swim and fertilize an egg.

    For men, the benefit of this continuous production cycle is that they are experiencing certain issues with fertility, they are able to make lifestyle changes, and relatively quickly may see an improvement.

    • jay

      January 29, 2018 - 1:02 pm

      But, how can men have continous sperm production? What if they don’t ejaculate, where do all sperm excess go? And if it takes 3 months to madurate, and they ejaculate every day, eventualy they’ll run out.

    • Sameer

      September 17, 2018 - 4:00 pm

      Sir how can i ask my question ?

      • Shady Grove Fertility

        September 24, 2018 - 1:58 pm

        Hi Sameer, you can submit your questions here or call 1-888-761-1967.

  11. Neil

    May 6, 2017 - 5:17 am

    Hello, I have a question and I would be greatful if it could be answered. Considering that i masturbate and ejaculate a couple of hours or so before having sex, given the understanding that you have provided regarding sperm maturation, would it imply that chances of getting my partner pregnant would be extremely low? Because of the sperms being newly produced and immature or something of the sort? Kindly reply.

    • jay

      January 29, 2018 - 1:14 pm

      I guess the chances would be lower, but remember you only need one for a successful fertilization , and you have millions. If she’s healthy, and lets say, you only ejaculate about a milion of mature sperm, still you have a million of chances.

  12. Chris

    February 4, 2017 - 9:46 pm

    Hi. I was about to start a cycle of Ostarine. Found out it might not good for sperm quality so I stopped after 4 days. We are trying to conceive now so do you think I am ok because of the 3 month period? Then after 3 months what is the likelihood that my sperm would have been affected by those 4 days? Any info would be great!

  13. Jiwanjot

    December 27, 2016 - 1:20 pm

    In year 2016, month Feb my wife was pregnant after pregnancy of six week , missed abortion occurred. So we lost.
    Then in june it was diagnosed that my kidneys are damaged. So on 28th July i had kidney transplant. Now after 5 month of transplant , i have done semen analysis, result come with count is too low to count. What should i do now? Please suggest.

  14. Abc

    November 6, 2016 - 3:41 pm

    Yes, masturbation has many side effects. Stop it as soon as possible.

  15. Mohammed Muzaffar

    October 26, 2016 - 8:21 pm

    I am Regular in masturbation daily thrice started from the age of 18. Now i am 28 years while masturbation i ejaculate but my sperm not coming out from penis or even pre-cum. This is almost same for past one month i am not cum. I check with internet giving different type of answers and i got fear now. Planning for marriage next year. Suggestion Needed.

    • ChennaiTransplantDoc

      March 6, 2018 - 3:46 am

      Unfortunately testicles like other things wear out. A man can normally have between 5000 and 20,000 ejaculations in total during lifetime. Normally this is more than enough – most men get married and wifes reduce sex to 2-3 times/week, so do not fail until 60+ years old.
      Looks like your masturbation has worn you out. Sorry.
      Massage of the testicles maybe able to restore a few hundred more ejaculations by loosening up the parts around the edges. Have a nurse firmly palpitate your testicles for 15-20mins per day for 30 days.
      If this does not work, the only option is testicle transplant. Sex-change clinics do have testicles removed from M->F transitions. They use 1 testicle and one silicon rubber mockup, so they can help 2 people from each pair of balls removed.
      Pig testicle is also possible. It is cheaper and no waiting list, but only do in asian countries (except malaysia and indonesia). Some wifes report change in flavour of semen, and excessive volume of semen, and obviously you cannot have babies with pig testicle.

  16. Ben

    October 9, 2016 - 11:25 am

    so if I have sex more than once a day and or masturbate once to twice a week does this actually disperse any sperm in my system? I am kind of confused on the 2.5-3 maturing…does it reset every time you ejaculate? Does your body only disperse a certain amount of sperm per ejaculation???? I am the opposite of folks here… I do not want any pregnancy, but my partner decided she is all set with any sort of birth control.

  17. Matt

    August 30, 2016 - 10:50 am

    I had a fertility test and showed 1% morphology (all other parameters normal). I believe this may well be down to long term use of painkillers (codeine phosphate 30/500mg, 2 per day, 5 days a week for 5 years plus) after a badly broken leg some years ago.
    I stopped taking them altogether 8 days ago to give myself and my wife the best chance of improving sperm morphology and, in turn, conceiving.
    Assuming that the codeine was the issue am I right in saying I should do a re-test after waiting for 2 days (for the last codeine to leave the system) + 74 days for a completely new, mature sperm supply that has not been affected by the painkillers?
    Any help or advice would be appreciated.

  18. shivam rana

    August 1, 2016 - 7:37 am

    If one ejaculates a lot is there possibility that immature sperms are being ejaculated.if so how much time should one pause 2- 3 months?are sperms in vas deference mature and once there when do they come out

  19. Chris

    July 15, 2016 - 10:21 am

    Hi shadygrovefertility

    I have a question…you mentioned it takes about 72 days for sperm to mature… if I have frequent sex, all of my mature sperm will run out??? Do I have to wait 72 days without intercourse and then I will have fully mature sperms ?

  20. Lo Soh

    May 25, 2016 - 3:46 am

    Shady Grove Fertility, please answer my questions:
    1. After 46 years old, I discover that my urge to have sex drop to once every 2 weeks instead of 2-3 times a week. Is this due to my sperm reproduction?
    2. The penis is not as hard as in the past and cannot maintain for 5 mins. I nowadays sleeping at 1 am instead of before 12 midnight in the past.
    3. Viagra and Cialis do not help. Any natural remedy? I’m taking Prepionyl-L-Carnitine 2g twice a day.

  21. umeshsohaliya

    May 3, 2016 - 11:38 am

    Dear ShallowHal only one mature sperm is enough to fertilize an egg. so there is lacks of chance of pregnancy if you aren’t ready for that you have to take pregnancy prevention steps.

  22. braveheart

    March 6, 2016 - 6:24 pm

    hello, im 30 years and have been masturbating since my teens( past 14 years i guess ) recent semen analysis (twice )showed azoospermia. if there are immature sperms in semen,does that also mean azoospermia? should i abstain from ejaculation for 74 days to get the count back? im realy scared.

  23. Ben

    February 17, 2016 - 11:16 pm

    Hello Please help if you can!
    My wife and I are trying to have our second baby. We were going to start trying tonight but we had a small incident where our microwave caught fire while we were out, not in use just wiring issue that caught the wires on fire. I went in when the house had smoke and realized the microwave had partially melted from heat. So I inhaled some smoke and air born plastics from the melted microwave, not sure if this effects the sperm. It was brief maybe 5-10 minutes, my throat and eyes burned a little but it wasn’t a really thick smoke.

    Should we wait the 74 days until the sperm is regenerated or are we being over catious. Thanks in advance!

  24. Adil Basheer

    January 3, 2016 - 8:29 am

    Hi, I am very overweight and have some poor semen figures. If I star changing my lifestyle today and my diet will it take three months from now for my sperm to get better or three months from when I lose a significant amount of weight? Also I hear conflicting things on how often you should have sex during ovulation and outside some say every day others say every other please clarify. Thanks.

  25. Andrew

    December 15, 2015 - 1:53 am

    If I stop smoking and start taking supplements, can I improve sperm quality already in production, so to be ready in 1-2 months?

  26. godswill

    November 15, 2015 - 8:49 am

    How does having sex affects broken bone and does having sex once a week affect your 74 days for getting mature sperm?

  27. Alex

    October 17, 2015 - 10:22 am


    We had IUI done and the first round my spouse’s sperm count was very high, in the area of 190 million. The next month and a half or so his count was 93 million for the second round. Is it normal to have such a drastically different sperm count within the span of a month and a half?

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      October 21, 2015 - 12:48 pm

      Hi Alex – It isn’t uncommon to have drastic changes in sperm quality or count from one test to the next, which is why you have a preliminary semen analysis, but the sample used for an IUI or IVF treatment cycle gets tested again. There are many factors that can swing the count, including changes to lifestyle and last ejaculation. Although likely nothing is wrong, you may want to talk with your nurse or physician to ensure that your husband is doing what he can to optimize his sample.

  28. Dylan

    October 12, 2015 - 4:11 am

    Yes I’m 13 and I really need to know when sperm fertilizes

  29. Nia

    September 21, 2015 - 10:18 pm

    My husband took a sperm analysis which resulted in a low sperm count, can he improve his sperm count by taking Selenium and prenatal vitamins?

  30. Taiwo

    September 13, 2015 - 2:22 pm

    Thanks Shady Grove.

    I have been following your responses. Correct me if I understand your reply to Waynes enquiries as “ejaculation or frequent sex within the 74 days window for sperm to mature will not affect the process”.

    Also I hear zinc supplements or foods high in zinc like Oysters are the way to go to improve quality, motility and mobility of these swimmers.

  31. Wayne

    September 2, 2015 - 3:57 pm

    Okay so it takes sperm approximately 74 days to mature. What I’m not getting is that am I supposed to wait that long? Because other articles state that after a week with no ejaculation, it can affect sperm motility. And it takes approximately 36 hours for a man to replenish sperm after ejaculation. So if I’m having sex every 36 hours, how does that give my sperm a chance to mature.

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      September 2, 2015 - 4:15 pm

      Hi Wayne – Great question.
      You certainly don’t have to abstain from intercourse for 74 days! The sperm maturation is a process. In the body, at the same time, you will have immature sperm that are brand new that will gradually mature over the next couple of months as well as fully mature sperm. The idea would be to abstain for a few days (based on your doctors recommendation) to build up enough mature sperm in your ejaculate to determine a sperm count and motility. In the case of intercourse or ejaculating to use for fertility treatment, the goal is to get enough mature sperm in the sample to increase the chances of fertilization.
      Hope this clarifies things!

  32. Chris

    August 10, 2015 - 12:40 pm

    After having intercourse earlyer in the day I a 27 year old male went to have intercourse again I reached climax but no fluids came out I’m trying to figure out approximately how long it should take for my body to start ejaculating fluids again because me and my wonderful girlfriend are trying to conceive and this has me terribly worried please help also what if any illegal narcotics can cause this becUae I smoke lots of pot please help me figure this out before I go even further off the deep end thank u any and all who have advice that is valid

  33. Tmoney

    August 1, 2015 - 4:53 pm

    Hi,i was diagnosed with no sperm count about a month,my wife and I have een hoping to conceive and bear children,is there a way that i can treat myself and produce sperm cells,what kind of drugs can you prescribe for sperm cell production.

    • Charlie

      July 12, 2017 - 10:37 pm

      Sharing my experience. Married since 3 years. I decided to join army, so that I can leave behind a decent life for my wife if anything happens to me.
      I went to BCT. 3 months of high physical activities, good diet, fruits, milk etc. Lot of water everyday. There was no time to masturbate.
      After coming back home, we decided to have sex during her peak time.
      My sperm usually was less thick and less white but this time it was whole different. It was so thick and much in quantity compared to all other time. It was similar to what I used to have during teenage time.

      So my suggestion improve ur diet milk water fruits and less carb. Exercise and gather sperm inside for couple of weeks if anyone is suffering from low count.

      This is hard, need patience, but may work

  34. Kunle

    June 15, 2015 - 9:18 am

    Pls, i need a clarification. You said said it takes 2.5-3 months for sperms to mature. Does that mean sperms must mature before it can ejaculated out. In other words, is all ejaculated sperms matured?

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      June 15, 2015 - 12:22 pm

      Hi Kunle – Yes, all sperm remain in the epididymis for this time to mature. That isn’t to say all ejaculated sperm are normal and can produce a healthy pregnancy. But taking steps to improve lifestyle can go a long way to increasing the volume and proportion of normal mature sperm that are ejaculated.

  35. Shady Grove Fertility

    June 9, 2015 - 12:11 pm

    Of course – masturbation is completely normal and should have no impact on one’s ability to conceive with your partner.

  36. Alhassan Sanusi

    May 2, 2015 - 2:05 pm

    I was someone who used to have sex very frequently and now I have my semen very watery and light from the normal semen. I am scared of what might the problem. Could lead to low sperm counts or make me infertile. Could this also means that my sperm bank is empty. Am confused here so please help me out. Thanks.

  37. Stella

    April 11, 2015 - 10:32 am

    Always take vitamin E and C (1000mg) everyday to improve your sperm count and motility

    • Richard

      November 7, 2017 - 8:52 pm

      Zinc and Folic acid are also very beneficial in increasing sperm quality and quantity… I had a reversal done in Sept of 2016 and my counts were consistently around 12-15 million for the first 8 months – I am up to 27 mil/ml in 3 months after taking the combination daily.

  38. hameed rehman

    July 24, 2014 - 9:21 pm

    i am suffering from all imotile sperms. Doctor is giving me anti inflamatory med due to renal infection. Before taking med, my right testicle was swelling. Now its ok. Sperm count is increasing but no single sperm moving. What is the reason. My last sperm count was
    1st 16 mil per ml 5 percent motile
    2nd 35 mil per ml zero motile
    3rd 39 mil per ml zero motile

  39. FFJr

    December 13, 2013 - 2:56 am

    I was disappointed with the same occurrence. Three months post reversal, a SC came out normal at 30mil… 6 Months after trying to conceive I went for a 2nd SA and Z E R O… :( I’m on Anti Inflammatory meds now and praying it was a scar tissue problem and that the meds open me back up. Very disappointing

  40. Shady Grove Fertility

    May 31, 2013 - 3:52 pm

    Hi Stan – The sperm mature at the end of this process, approximately 2.5-3 months. Life cycle has been calculated during studies where trauma and other variables done. You can see that sperm produced after the event would no longer show signs of the trauma.

  41. Stan

    May 31, 2013 - 1:12 pm

    Please is it possible to know when the produced sperms are matured? Or how can the life cycle be calculated?

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