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Male fertility

Production of sperm cells

The production of sperm cells starts during puberty and takes place in the testicles. This process should continue for the rest of a man’s life, if he is physically healthy.

The production of sperm cells is regulated by the reproductive hormones FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). The release of these hormones is stimulated by hormonal signals from the pituitary gland, a part of the brain. FSH is responsible for the development and maturation of sperm cells, and LH is responsible for the production of testosterone. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, which is responsible for the male sexual characteristics which become apparent during puberty. It also has an important part to play in the development of sperm cells, and influences male libido.

Development and maturation of sperm cells

Every day, starting at the onset of puberty, millions of sperm cells are produced in the testicular tubes, located in the testes. It takes 74 days for a sperm cell to mature completely. The development of a sperm cell takes place in the testes, and the final maturing stage takes place in the epididymis. There, mature sperm cells obtain their agility. A sperm cell consists of a head, middle, and a tail. The head contains the genetic material, the middle of the sperm cell supplies the energy necessary for movement and the tail allows the sperm cell to move.


During an ejaculation, muscle spasms expel the agile sperm cells from the vas deferens and the urethra. Fluids are added to the sperm cells by the seminal vesicles as well as the prostrate, so that an ejaculation is made up of 90% fluids and 10% sperm cells. Through the vagina, the cervix and the uterus, these sperm cells will eventually reach the fallopian tubes. If either of the fallopian tubes contains a mature oocyte, the sperm cells will try to penetrate its outer shell in order to fertilize the oocyte. Each ejaculation contains millions of sperm cells because many of them do not survive the journey to the fallopian tubes. If the number of sperm cells in an ejaculation is lower than average, or the sperm cells in an ejaculation are not agile enough, the odds of fertilizing an oocyte are lower.