Sex Advice

Dear Dr. Locker: How long does sperm live outside of the body, and in woman's body?

Answer from Dr. Locker

Some sources say that sperm can live outside of the body (like on your hand) for only three to five minutes. Other sources say that sperm could stay alive for three to five hours. The reason we can not get a straight answer about this is because sperm stays alive different lengths of time in different surroundings. For example, if it is ejaculated INSIDE the vagina, where it is warm and wet, sperm will stay alive for (on average) one to three days, and in some cases up to seven days. When it is ejaculated in open air, any conditions outside of the body that are warm and moist will keep it alive longer. Yet, if you are washing your hands very well and drying your hands, then the sperm will not still be on your hands. The bottom line is: If a man ejaculates outside of a woman's body, she should be careful to keep it away from the inside of her vagina. You should both wash and dry well, and avoid putting fingers inside the vagina until you are sure that you have cleaned yourselves thoroughly. Also, it is highly unlikely that the sheet would ever get into your vagina, but just for your peace of mind, do not sleep on the "wet spot." You'll sleep better that way.

For more information, read the following:

*Can a woman get pregnant during intercourse if the man does not ejaculate?

*When and how should I broach the topic of birth control?

Also, read my QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK on the main advice page every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Copyright © Dr. Sari Locker