How Many Days can Sperm Live in a Woman's Body?

Kati Bicknel
Women's Health
February 21, 2013

Dear Kindara,

How many days can sperm live in a woman’s body?

-Summer, 24 Boston, MA

Hey Summer!The lifespan of sperm in a woman’s body is largely dependent on one thing: cervical fluid. A woman’s cervical fluid provides the sperm with the nutrients they need to survive during their journey to the ovum. The typical lifespan of sperm in a woman’s body while fertile cervical fluid is present is three days, but in the right conditions sperm can even live up to five days. This is an incredible feat compared to the brief lifespan of a mere few hours when there is no cervical fluid present.

This is why tracking cervical fluid is crucial to understanding your fertility. With nutrient-rich, fertile cervical fluid, sperm can live longer in the woman’s body. Therefore they have more time to reach the egg or just hang out until the egg is released. This means that if sperm enters the vagina a few days before ovulation a woman can get pregnant.

The period of time roughly five days before and the day after ovulation is known as your fertile window. The length of the fertile window is different for every woman; tracking important fertility signs can help you know the exact length of your personal fertile window. If you’re trying to get pregnant, the fertile window is an excellent time to pull the goalie (drop the defensive contraceptives and ramp up your offense). If you’re not trying to get pregnant, protection during this window is essential, so get your defensemen ready for action. (Hockey metaphors in a fertility blog! Bet you didn’t think you’d see that today.)

In short, how long sperm can live inside a woman’s body depends on when it made its way in there. It all depends on the type of cervical fluid (if any) that’s present. Tracking your cervical fluid is a great way to understand your fertility and to achieve, or avoid, pregnancy.

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