What challenges do sperm cells face during ovulation?

Written by: Mr Mahantesh Karoshi
Edited by: Conor Lynch

Top Doctors recently had the opportunity to speak to esteemed London-based consultant gynaecologist, Mr Mahantesh Karoshi, who, in our latest article here, reveals how long sperm can typically survive once inside a woman’s reproductive tract, and how a woman’s immune system reacts to sperm cells.

What does the sperm face after ejaculation occurs?

The ultimate goal of the sperm is to fertilise the egg. However, to meet the egg cell, the sperm must go through a long and tedious path. Following ejaculation, the sperm begins a race where not only speed is crucial, but also resistance.


After ejaculation, and once inside the woman’s body, the sperm cells have to overcome a great number of obstacles that will ultimately make it difficult for them to get to the fallopian tubes and fertilise the egg.


What is the distance that sperm cells have to travel before fertilising an egg?

The distance a sperm has to travel is about 15 centimetres, and it is in fact a race against time. The lifespan of an egg is on average about 24 hours.


How long can sperm cells survive once inside the female reproductive tract?

Sperm cells can survive for up to between two to five days.


Can all sperm cells survive once inside the vagina?

Not every sperm cell is able to survive inside the vagina due to the vaginal acidic pH.


How does a woman’s immune system typically respond to sperm cells?

The woman's white blood cells detect the sperm cells as "foreign cells” and, thus, try to destroy them.


What challenges do sperm cells face during ovulation?

During ovulation, cervical fluid is thinner and less dense to facilitate the passage of sperm. Conversely, when the woman is not ovulating, this fluid becomes denser and viscous, which complicates the sperm's journey.


Make sure you book a consultation with Mr Mahantesh Karoshi today if you are worried about fertility-related issues. You can do just that by visiting his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Mahantesh Karoshi
Obstetrics & gynaecology

Mr Mahantesh Karoshi is a London-based women’s health expert and consultant gynaecologist, with a special interest in ovarian cysts, heavy menstrual bleeding, infertility, fibroids, and adenomyosis. He is currently one of the most highly-rated gynaecologists in London with a very good reputation amongst his patients and peers.

Mr Karoshi's work is recognised internationally, having volunteered in Ethiopia’s Gimbie Hospital, and later receiving the Bernhard Baron Travelling Fellowship from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists which led to his work in the University of Buenos Aires. Here he worked on the techniques needed to surgically manage morbidly adherent placental disorders - a serious condition that can occur in women with multiple caesarean sections.

He believes in an open doctor-patient relationship, being sure to include the patient and educating them so that they understand their condition better and they can be directly involved in their care and management at every stage. Aside from his clinical work, he is actively involved in research, which together with his experience, has given him the opportunity to publish the first stand-alone textbook on postpartum haemorrhage which was launched by HRH Princess Anne.

At the core of Mr Karoshi's practice is a high standard of professionalism where patients are involved in their treatment and where the latest techniques and advancements are used to provide an extremely high level of care.

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