How does a sperm cell die?

How does a sperm cell die?

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What causes an animal sperm cell to die? Does it die somehow from being outside its original environment?

I've studied the Wikipedia page on sperm and I see a lot of information on what makes up a sperm cell, but can't quite figure out its lifecycle and exactly how it dies.

So most cells require growth factors and survival factors to stay alive in an organism. Cells which stop receiving survival factors, such as sperm, undergo a process of programmed cell death (PCD) called apoptosis. Some cells will also undergo necrosis, or autophagy, among other types of PCD. Lachaud et al. performed a study in 2004 on the contribution of apoptosis and necrosis in ejaculated sperm. They make note in the intro that from other literature that we see some hallmarks of apoptosis like externalized phosphatidylserine, fragmented DNA, etc. despite inactivated nuclei and a small cytoplasm. Their data notes that ejaculate sperm cell death mainly occurs from necrosis, however, because sperm themselves lack the ability to initiate apoptosis. However, in the testes, there's data to note that apoptosis plays a role, and the presence of apoptotic spermatozoa in the ejactulate may be result of the inititation of apoptosis by factors which still inside the body. Apoptosis of spermatozoa in the testes is currently under investigation in male infertility, and damage in cryopreservation.

Just to give you an idea of the difference, necrosis is a much messier outcome derived from physical factors, or those factors external to the cell. Apoptosis is organized, controlled, and modulated by cellular signals.

How and why are sperm cells specialised ?

Sperm cells are specialised because they have a specific function in the body- to fertilise the female gamete (egg). Therefore to carry out its job, it has special features typical body cells do not. The nucleus, which contains the genetic material is located in the head of the sperm cell. The sperm cells have a tail for swimming, optimising fertilisation. Also they are full of mitochondria to supply the energy for movement (swimming).(Bonus- maybe not for GCSE answer- On the head of the spermatozoa there is the acrosome, containing enzymes. This is so the enzymes can break down the female egg cell, so the sperm can penetrate the egg.This question is usually about 4 marks within a test so you want to make sure you have 4 separate points within the answer.

Facts about sperm health and lifespan

Sperm cells cannot survive for long once they are exposed to the air outside of the body.

Precisely how long they can survive depends on the environment that they are released into and how quickly the fluid surrounding the sperm cells dries up.

Read on for the answers to some common questions about sperm and sperm survival.

After ejaculation, sperm can live inside the female body for around 5 days. The fluid in a woman’s reproductive tract has all of the nutrients that sperm need for their survival during that time.

Once inside the female reproductive tract, the sperm cells must swim through the cervix and into the uterus to reach the fallopian tubes and female egg. It is a very long journey for sperm cells to make and very few survive.

The withdrawal method, or when the male “pulls out” of the female before ejaculation, is notoriously unreliable.

Before ejaculation occurs, a small amount of semen, also known as “pre-cum,” leaves the penis.

There is some debate as to whether this fluid contains sperm cells. Until researchers are sure, it is best to assume that pregnancy is possible if this fluid comes into contact with a woman’s vagina.

According to Planned Parenthood, if the withdrawal method is performed correctly 100 percent of the time, it is about 96 percent effective.

However, most people are not able to perform it correctly every time, making the actual effectiveness somewhere around 78 percent. This means that each year, 22 out of 100 women using this method will get pregnant, or around 1 in 5.

Withdrawal is more effective when combined with other methods of contraception, such as male or female condoms or spermicide.

When using this method, it is also essential to make sure that ejaculation occurs away from the vaginal opening. It is still possible for pregnancy to happen if the sperm spills onto the vagina or vulva.

In the hot tub, sperm cells do not live for very long at all. The sperm cannot survive for longer than a few seconds after being exposed to the chemicals and hot water.

Pregnancy from someone ejaculating into a hot tub would be very rare and likely not even possible.

In a warm bath that was not too hot, sperm cells could likely survive for a few minutes. However, it is very unlikely that sperm would be able to find their way through the tub water and into the vagina of a female.

Pregnancy occurring in this manner would also be very difficult, if not impossible.

However, if a couple were having intercourse in the water, pregnancy would be just as likely because the sperm would enter directly into the female reproductive tract. The outside temperature and physical environment would not have any impact on sperm survival.


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Spermatogenesis, the origin and development of the sperm cells within the male reproductive organs, the testes. The testes are composed of numerous thin tightly coiled tubules known as the seminiferous tubules the sperm cells are produced within the walls of the tubules. Within the walls of the tubules, also, are many randomly scattered cells, called Sertoli cells, that function to support and nourish the immature sperm cells by giving them nutrients and blood products. As the young germ cells grow, the Sertoli cells help to transport them from the outer surface of the seminiferous tubule to the central channel of the tubule.

Sperm cells are continually being produced by the testes, but not all areas of the seminiferous tubules produce sperm cells at the same time. One immature germ cell takes as long as 74 days to reach final maturation, and during this growth process there are intermittent resting phases.

The immature cells (called spermatogonia) are all derived from cells called stem cells in the outer wall of the seminiferous tubules. The stem cells are composed almost entirely of nuclear material. (The nucleus of the cell is the portion containing the chromosomes.) The stem cells begin their process by multiplying in the process of cell duplication known as mitosis. Half of the new cells from this initial crop go on to become the future sperm cells, and the other half remain as stem cells so that there is a constant source of additional germ cells. Spermatogonia destined to develop into mature sperm cells are known as primary sperm cells. These move from the outer portion of the seminiferous tubule to a more central location and attach themselves around the Sertoli cells. The primary sperm cells then develop somewhat by increasing the amount of cytoplasm (substances outside of the nucleus) and structures called organelles within the cytoplasm. After a resting phase the primary cells divide into a form called a secondary sperm cell. During this cell division there is a splitting of the nuclear material. In the nucleus of the primary sperm cells there are 46 chromosomes in each of the secondary sperm cells there are only 23 chromosomes, as there are in the egg. When the egg and sperm combine and their chromosomes unite, the characteristics of both individuals blend and the new organism starts to grow.

The secondary sperm cell still must mature before it can fertilize an egg maturation entails certain changes in the shape and form of the sperm cell. The nuclear material becomes more condensed and oval in shape this area develops as the head of the sperm. The head is covered partially by a cap, called the acrosome, which is important in helping the sperm to gain entry into the egg. Attached to the opposite end of the head is the tailpiece. The tail is derived from the secondary sperm cell’s cytoplasm. In the mature sperm, it consists of a long, slender bundle of filaments that propel the sperm by their undulating movement. Once the sperm has matured, it is transported through the long seminiferous tubules and stored in the epididymis of the testes until it is ready to leave the male body.

How a Man Produces 1,500 Sperm a Second

A man's constant supply of sperm is created in a much more complex way than previously thought, says new research that could someday lead to male birth control.

Attention, men: In the last second your bodies each produced at least 1,500 sperm cells. Now researchers have unlocked just how this seminal feat is possible.

For the past 40 years scientists have thought stem cells in the testicles—also called germline stem cells—become sperm only through a simple, two-step process.

Not so. Germline stem cells, it seems, can become sperm in several different ways, according to new experiments with mice. (Explore an interactive of the human body.)

"What we're saying is there isn't a strict linear progression from a stem cell to a [sperm] cell," said study co-author Robert Braun, associate director at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. "Sometimes the stem cells go through several cell divisions to get there, sometimes they don't."

What's more, the researchers found that a cell that's partway to becoming a sperm cell can revert back to being a germline stem cell—previously thought impossible.

For the new study, scientists genetically engineered mice so that their germline stem cells appeared fluorescent, allowing the team to watch the cells' development. (For more on this technique, see "Chemistry Nobel Prize Awarded for Glowing Protein Work.")

The scientists also "labeled" specific cells within the mouse germline stem cells a certain color and observed what happened to them over a period of several days. (Related: "'Brainbows' Illuminate the Mind's Wiring.")

The research also revealed that sperm develop from a smaller subset of specialized germline stem cells in the testes than previously thought.

Sperm Live Fast, Die Young

Since sperm are short-lived, they must constantly be replenished, Braun noted—hence that 1,500-per-second production rate.

"In addition, fertiization is surprisingly inefficent," he said. "There has to be a large initial payload [for those] few cells to make it to the final destination"—the woman's egg.

But continuously pumping out a stream of sperm cells from puberty to old age requires a man's body to maintain a very delicate germ cell balance.

For instance, if germline stem cells stay stem cells for a long time and don't change into sperm cells, a man may be at risk of getting testicular cancer. But if germline stem cells too often develop into sperm, a man may become infertile.

Sperm Research May Lead to Male Birth Control

Unlocking such mysteries of sperm development could someday lead to infertility treatments or even the elusive male birth control pill, said Braun, whose research appears tomorrow in the journal Science. (Related: "New Sex Hormone Found—May Lead to Male Birth Control?")

For instance, scientists may learn how to keep germline stem cells from becoming sperm.

"The more we learn about the normal behavior of cells," Braun said, "the more we know how to manipulate them."

Cryopreservation: Sperm or egg freezing

No matter how healthy your lifestyle is or how fit you are, your fertility is bound to decline with age, regardless of whether you&rsquore a man or woman, with a steep decline in the age range of 35-45 years. The fall in egg (or sperm) quality occurs earlier for some people and later for others.

Now, a decline in the quality of eggs is associated with increased risks of chromosomally abnormal babies or miscarriages. A workaround for this situation is oocyte cryopreservation.

Cryopreservation is a good alternative for patients postponing pregnancy. (Photo Credit : Wzsuzsanna3 at Hungarian Wikipedia Dr. Vereczkey Attila / Wikimedia Commons)

Simply put, cryopreservation is the freezing of tissue for future use. Since frozen sperm cells, eggs (oocytes) and embryos do not age, fertility (of the individual in question) can be maintained, regardless of medical or other issues.

Furthermore, this is not for just a few years eggs can be frozen indefinitely. This is why a woman can freeze her eggs as an effective means of protecting her fertility in the future. In addition to that, freezing excess embryos reduces the cost of subsequent assisted pregnancies (when the woman grows old and is not as fertile as she was in her youth).

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More recently, in 2008, Duane Garner and George Seidel provided a historical overview of commercialized use of sex-sorted sperms with cattle. Following significant improvements in the efficiency of flow sorting of bull sperms and successful cryopreservation, worldwide distribution rapidly developed. Financial advantages of sex pre-selection more than outweigh the relatively high cost of sex-sorted sperms, notably in the dairy industry, which needs bulls only for breeding.

Successful, high-precision separation of X- and Y-sperms in large numbers by flow sorting has paved the way for new research into possible differences. An excellent example is a 1998 paper by Linda Penfold and colleagues, examining motility of X- and Y-sperms from bull semen. They measured swimming speed, mean angular displacement, linearity, straightness of path, tail-beat frequency and extent of lateral head movements. X- and Y-sperms did show significant differences for mean angular displacement, linearity and straightness of path. By contrast, no significant differences were found for swimming speed, tail-beat frequency or lateral head movements. So the assumption that Y-sperms swim faster than X-sperms — shared by Shettles, Ericsson and many others — was not confirmed.

Sperm sorting by female mammals?

As it has at last proved possible to separate X- from Y-sperms, it is time to re-examine the possibility of selection in the genital tract of female mammals. Carmen Almiñana and colleagues reported one step in this direction, using state-of-the-art techniques, in a 2014 paper describing research on pigs, designed to determine whether X- and Y-sperms may be distinguished in the oviduct.

The researchers exploited the fact that female mammals have two oviducts. Using a laparoscope for guidance, a population of X-sperms was inseminated into one oviduct and a population of Y-sperms inseminated into the other. It emerged that genetic activity of the oviduct in response to sperms differed significantly according to whether they were carrying X- or Y-chromosomes. Moreover, local immune responses specific to each sperm type were evoked within the oviduct. It is hence clear that oviducts respond differently to X- and Y-sperms, providing a possible basis for a sex-biasing mechanism under female control.


After decades of controversy and conflicting reports, it is now possible to separate X- and Y-sperms with considerable (although not perfect) precision. Going forward, this should be a considerable boon to research as well as enabling justifiable interventions to pre-select the sex of human babies. Let it be noted that sex pre-selection may be needed for sound medical reasons. Some inherited conditions are linked to genes located on the X-chromosome (e.g. haemophilia, hydrocephalus, Duchenne muscular dystrophy). These conditions mainly affect boys, so it is safer to have girls. It is also recognized that pre-selection of a baby’s sex may be desirable in order to achieve balance within families. But such justifications lie on a slippery slope, and careful monitoring will be necessary to forestall any future drift towards an excess of one sex.

In closing, I feel obliged to comment that research on pigs conducted by one of the authors cited here has been blocked by an unfortunate development. A major company owns patents protecting the sperm separation technology, and for some reason now prohibits users from conducting research using the separated X- and Y-sperms. It is a sad day when private companies that have benefited enormously from publicly funded and freely available scientific findings stand in the way of continued research!

How to Donate Sperm

This article was medically reviewed by Sarah Gehrke, RN, MS. Sarah Gehrke is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Massage Therapist in Texas. Sarah has over 10 years of experience teaching and practicing phlebotomy and intravenous (IV) therapy using physical, psychological, and emotional support. She received her Massage Therapist License from the Amarillo Massage Therapy Institute in 2008 and a M.S. in Nursing from the University of Phoenix in 2013.

There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Sperm donation typically involves the provision of sperm by a healthy male to a sperm bank or fertility clinic for the purpose of artificially inseminating a woman who is not his sexual partner. Most recipients of donor sperm are heterosexual couples dealing with male infertility, lesbian couples, and single women. Sperm donors get paid for their samples, but there are numerous qualifications to meet before a sperm bank or fertility clinic accepts the donor as a client.

Pollination Syndromes

It may sound like a disease, but pollination “syndrome” just means the way a particular plant species is pollinated. The majority of pollinators are animals, including insects (like bees, flies, and butterflies), bats, or birds. Some plant species are pollinated by abiotic agents, such as wind and water. Plants that are pollinated by animals must either produce nectar to attract and feed the animals, or extra pollen that is eaten by the animals. Plants that are pollinated by wind or water must produce massive quantities of pollen since the probability of the pollen landing on a stigma of the right species is low (wind and water pollination is analogous to broadcast spawning). The mechanism of pollination and the features of the flower are tightly linked:

  • Colored, highly scented flowers tend to be pollinated by bees, butterflies, wasps, or flies. These insects are active during the day, and are able to detect bright colors and have a strong sense of smell. Different smells attract different pollinators, with sweet smells attracting bees and butterflies, and rotting smells attracting flies. Many insect-pollinated flowers have additional color patterns in the UV range, which insects are capable of seeing while humans cannot.
  • White or pale-colored, highly scented flowers tend to be pollinated by moths and bats which are active at night. The light coloring makes them easier to see at night, and they tend to smell musky or fruity. Flowers pollinated by bats are larger than those pollinated by moths.
  • Brightly colored, odorless flowers tend to be pollinated by birds, which do not have a strong sense of smell. The flowers tend to have a curved, tubular shape to accommodate the bird’s beak.
  • Small green, petal-less flowers tend to be pollinated by wind. Wind-pollinated flowers do not produce nectar, but must produce excessive quantities of pollen. Gymnosperms such as pines, which do not have flowers, are also pollinated by wind.
  • Some aquatic plants are pollinated by water the pollen floats and the water carries it to another flower.

Some examples of different pollination syndromes are shown below:

Left: Insects, such as bees, are important agents of pollination. Middle: Hummingbirds have adaptations that allow them to reach the nectar of certain tubular flowers. Right: A person knocks pollen from a pine tree. (credit: OpenStax Biology, left: modification of work by Jon Sullivan, Lori Branham)

And this video briefly describes the different pollination syndromes listed above:

In which structure do sperm cells develop? epididymis scrotum testes vas deferens

The male reproductive system produce sperm that has a crucial role in gamete formation during reproduction. The male has a pair of the testis that support the production of both sperm as well as sex hormones. The sperm carries half (23) the number of chromosomes. The process of formation of sperm is called spermatogenesis. It takes place in the seminiferous tubules. One complete cycle requires 64 days to produce sperm from spermatogonia.

After production, the sperm which are immotile are surrounded by the testicular fluid that supports its movement from lumen to epididymis. The epididymis is a coiled shaped tube that is attached to the testis. Here, the sperm maturation process occurs. As the sperm move along the length of the tube, they improve their ability to move on their own. When they get into the female reproductive tract, they use this ability to move within the uterus of the female reproductive system.

1. Learn more about a haploid cell during meiosis

2. Learn more about how are mitosis and binary fission similar

3. Learn more about a dividing eukaryotic cell is treated with a drug that inhibits shortening of spindle microtubules. This will cause the cell division cycle to stop at the stage.

Chapter: Reproductive system

Male, sperm,reproductive, gamete, reproduction,epididymis, chromosome,testis, spermatogenesis, seminiferous, testicular,spermatogonia, female, uterus.

Option D, structure of sperm cells, presence of phragmoplasts, and rings of cellulose-synthesizing complexes

The cells of Charophyte contain several chloroplast and nuclei and thus they are known as coenocytic.

The structure of their sperm is very similar to that of the plants on land which make it distinctive from other fresh water algae. The sperm has flagella that makes it motile.

Only one of the Charophyta species uses the phragmoplast method of cell division just like plants

Like land plants, charophytes' plasma membrane has distinctive rings of cellulose-synthesizing complexes which synthesizes cellulose microfibrils

Hence, option D is correct

answer: sperm are produced in testicles and develop to maturity while travelling from the seminiferous tubules through the epididymis in to the vas deferens. the entire process will take about 9 to 10 weeks

Epididymis I just took it on e2020

Charophytes are the group of some green algae of fresh water. The cahrophyta can be included in both the division and super division. Embryophyta has been emerged from the charophyta.

A student confirm whether the algae is charophyte or not by looking at the specific features. The cahrophytes has well defined sexual characters and the structure of sperm cell, the presence of phragmoplast confirms the charophytes. The cellulose synthesizing ring complex is also present in charophytes.

Thus, the correct answer is option (2), (3) and (4).

The development of sperm cell takes place in testes.

The development of sperm cell takes place in testes, the procedure of meiosis takes place in the process of sperm development, where the differentiation of cell takes place into four haploid cells. This phenomenon is termed as spermatogenesis. This takes place in order for the host or the parent to disperse the desirable genes, which are fit for the species' succession.

The sperm cells are matured in an epididymis.

The male reproductive system produce sperm that are important for gamete formation during reproduction. The male reproductive system is lies outside the body. It consists of penis, scrotum, and testicles. Testicles are the oval-shaped organ that consists of seminiferous tubules.Theyconsist of a pair of the testis that support the production of both sperm as well as sex hormones. The sperm carries a half (23)number of chromosomes. The process of formation of sperm is called spermatogenesis. It takes place in the seminiferous tubules. One complete cycle requires 64 days to produce sperm from spermatogonia.

In the beginning,spermare immotile and are supported by the testicular fluid for movement from lumen to epididymis. It is a coiled shaped tube that is attached to the testis. Here, the sperm mature in this tube. As the sperm move along the length of the tube, they improve their ability to move on their own. When they get into the female reproductive tract, they use this ability to move within the uterus of the female reproductive system.

1. Learn more about the treatment of eukaryotic cell with a drug

2. Learn more about the proteins synthesis in a cell

3. Learn more about an exchange of gases by blood cells

Chapter: Reproductive system

Male, reproductive, sperm, gamete, reproduction, testis, chromosome, spermatogenesis, seminiferous, spermatogonia, testicular, female, uterus, epididymis