Sperm Vs. Semen
Even though people often use them interchangeably, sperm and semen aren’t the same thing. Semen (a.k.a. cum) is the gooey fluid that spurts out of the penis during ejaculation, and sperm are the microscopic, tadpole-looking cells inside semen that cause pregnancy. You can think of sperm as fish, and semen as the river.
The Sperm Journey
Sperm are produced at a rather impressive rate. Testicles contain nearly 1,200 feet of spaghetti-like tubes that produce around 1,000 sperm cells per second, round the clock. It’s a continuous, but not instant, process — the full development of one sperm cell from start to finish takes about 90 days. After growing in the testicles for a couple months, sperm head to the epididymis, their storage facility in the scrotum, where they mature until they’re ready to be sent on their grand egg-seeking journey. If sperm aren’t invited to an ejaculation party within a few weeks, they’re reabsorbed back into the body and replaced by fresher batches.
Magical, Magical Semen
Even though there are roughly 200-500 million sperm cells in every ejaculation, sperm only make up about 1% of semen — the rest is all about protecting and nourishing that precious cargo. The majority (50-70%) of cum comes from the seminal vesicles, which produce a thick liquid rich in fructose sugars that provide energy for sperm. The prostate contributes to up to 30% of semen, releasing a thin, milky, alkaline fluid that helps the little swimmers move and counteracts sperm-killing acidity in the vagina.
What’s The Deal With Pre-Cum?
Just like semen, pre-ejaculate plays an important role in sperm survival. The slippery stuff that drips out of the penis when things start getting zesty is made in the cowper’s glands (also called bulbourethral glands). Pre-cum lubricates the urethra and helps neutralize acidity from urine residue, prepping sperm’s pathway for a safe, smooth ride. Everyone with a penis makes pre-cum during arousal, even if it’s not always noticeable.
Vasectomies are one of the few birth control options for the penis-carrying set. (They’re also super effective, and usually permanent.) But, a big misconception about vasectomies is that they turn the faucet off altogether, resulting in totally dry, ejaculation-less orgasms.
What You Put In Your Body May Impact What Comes Out Of It
One of the more lively spunk debates is whether or not food and drink alter its taste, but there’s not enough research to determine for sure which side is correct. It’s generally believed that sugary stuff like fruit can make it taste sweeter; things like meat, coffee, and alcohol may make it a little more bitter. Everyone’s body is different, and semen taste varies from person to person.