How long does sperm last?

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space egg
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How long does sperm last?

Unread postby space egg » Thu Dec 31, 2020 1:51 pm

Hey Scarleteen, this isn’t a pregnancy scare just a quick question

How long does sperm live on surfaces such as wet tap handles and cold wet towels? The tap water wasn’t warm in any way, and sperm was washed with foaming hand soap after tap was turned on.
In this situation we’re talking pre-ejaculate, and not much of it, I just wanted to double check.

Also another question. If a hand has been washed and dried fully, even on surfaces that may have sperm, is it safe to rub the vulva with?

I apologise if this is frustrating to answer, I have read through your pages to do with sperm and I just really thought a more solid answer would help me wrap my head around it.

Happy New Years!

Heather
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Re: How long does sperm last?

Unread postby Heather » Thu Dec 31, 2020 2:06 pm

The things about that first question you're asking -- and probably why you're not finding satisfactory answers to it -- is that that's just not how sperm cells work. In other words, you're asking about them, how long they live, like they're viruses. But they're not. They're cells that can only do a thing with other kinds of cells, with certain kinds of fluids, and in very specific circumstances, circumstances that can't exist once they find themselves in places like towels or door handles. Understand?

Same goes for question number two there. If someone has washed and dried their hands, they have clean hands, and those hands are free of germs and other pathogens (and sperm) and would be okay to touch genitals with as far as safety goes. As far as pregnancy goes, again, see that first question. Pregnancy doesn't work like infection.

Have you read our piece on how pregnancy actually works? If not, maybe that would help this make more sense to you:? Human Reproduction: A Seafarer's Guide?

(Happy new year to you, too!)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

space egg
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Re: How long does sperm last?

Unread postby space egg » Thu Dec 31, 2020 2:29 pm

Thank you so much Heather!

After reading this I feel I should step back and learn a bit more before I try new things again with my partner, something I was already thinking of doing, as I have only seemed to get looming anxiety from sexual experiences despite the fact that in practice they do not make me uncomfortable. I’m just unsure as to what resources I should read and trust, as most of what I’ve been taught is “a singular sperm cell can fertilise an egg.” Are there any you can recommend?
Thank you for your provided link, I’ll definitely give that a read as well.

Thank you for such a quick reply on a day like this, your kindness means a lot!

Heather
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Re: How long does sperm last?

Unread postby Heather » Thu Dec 31, 2020 3:41 pm

Why don't you start with that link I gave you: that is not at ALL how human reproduction works, and that link really is the best place I think there is to start. It also has some other internal links with other sources if you want to branch out.

By all means, I feel like any kind if sex where we feel anxious and uncomfortable is never going to be sex we can fully enjoy enough to be worth our time, let alone the stress it causes, you know? I wholly support anyone and everyone in always taking whatever time and space they need, whenever they need it, to figure out what they need to be comfortable and okay.

And you're welcome. :)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

space egg
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Re: How long does sperm last?

Unread postby space egg » Sat Jan 02, 2021 3:38 am

Hello again!
Still not a pregnancy scare, I'm just trying to learn more so I can take more precautionary measures in the future. I apologise if my quest for knowledge is repetitive to answer, it was just very reassuring to have a specific answer last time and I have been getting mixed answers from different places.

A few days ago, I gave my partner a hand job, and while he didn't ejaculate, I did get pre-ejaculate on my hands. And even then it wasn't much, because it didn't last long since we were not in the mood. He touched himself to put his penis back in his pants, and we both washed and dried our hands using the same tap and the same towel. About half an hour later, I consented to him giving me manual sex, and he washed his hands again, only he touched the wet spot of the same towel we wiped our hands on. He quickly changed towels and dried his hands, and they were completely dry before he touched me. There was no penetration, he only touched the entrance of my vagina and my clitoris. I doubt it does, but does this still pose risk of any infection or pregnancy? You mentioned certain fluids, and that most likely means ejaculatory fluids, but I'd really like to know more about that. We are both each others' first sexual partners, and spoke to our parents, who mentioned they had no history of STI, except for my mother who has oral herpes, which is in itself not an STI, and I have not given my partner oral as of yet even though I have shown no signs of the virus myself.
I also read the article you sent, and it reassured me a lot and was way more educational than what I considered to be the decent sexual education I received from school, so thank you for that.

The events of the first paragraph occurred on day one of my menstrual cycle, and this month's period has provided new symptoms that I never got before my first sexual encounters with my partner (occasional sharp pains, occasional back pain) and after ovulation I also had occasional mild cramps. The only real sexual encounters we've had have been the one mentioned previously and a few instances of manual sex during my previous cycle. We were completely safe and we maintained basic hygiene, though I did get anxious about pregnancy despite the fact that there was no real risk (which some of the pages on Scarleteen helped me through, so thank you for that!) to the point where I was crying most days and constantly very anxious. Does severe stress and anxiety affect our menstrual cycles and periods? I doubt this would have anything to do with an STI (due to the paragraph above), my main suspicions have been something to do with my hormones being wacky from severe stress or something to do with another unrelated health issue with a suspected chronic condition, which is strange to me since I had never had symptoms of it until after my first sexual encounters if that were the case. I digress, this isn't the place to ask advice for that side of things :lol:

I sincerely thank you for your help, both directly and indirectly. This site is honestly a great resource and I would probably be way more freaked out than I am without it. I wish you all the best and a lovely day!

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Re: How long does sperm last?

Unread postby Sam W » Sat Jan 02, 2021 9:56 am

Hi space egg,

I think this article, if you haven't already seen it, will answer a lot of your questions: Can I Get Pregnant, or Get or Pass On an STI From That?. When reading that, keep in mind that when we talk about risk, we're factoring in contact with pre-ejaculate or ejaculate.

And yes, sometimes stress can effect your menstrual cycle. In fact, there are a number of non-pregnancy related reasons for a period to turn up late: M.I.A or, Dude, Where's My Period?

space egg
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Re: How long does sperm last?

Unread postby space egg » Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:13 pm

Thanks Sam!
I’m unsure if my reply sent, my phone bugged a bit. I doubt it did, so I’m just going to type it again.
About the risk thing, that’s the thing. I’m unsure whether or not I had contact with pre-ejaculate, as he completely dried his hands after he touched the towel. I was asking about what Heather said, with specific fluids being required.

As for the period, I was talking about new symptoms after prolonged stress and anxiety. My period was actually early after my episode of anxiety, by three days. It’s usually pretty regular, so while that definitely eased my mind at the time, it was a little surprising.

I apologise if the questions I’ve been asking have been silly questions, I’m just trying to educate myself a bit better :)

Take care, and thank you!

Alexa
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Re: How long does sperm last?

Unread postby Alexa » Sun Jan 03, 2021 7:56 am

Hey space egg,

These are definitely not silly questions! To reiterate what Heather said earlier, washing your hands, using the same towel to dry, etc. are risk-free activities because sperm will not hang around on a towel waiting for an egg, if that makes sense. None of these things that you've mentioned carry a risk of pregnancy or infection. It sounds like you're being exceedingly safe.

That being said, it's very clear that pregnancy anxiety is interfering with your ability to enjoy any kind of sexual intercourse. Do you have anyone in your life that can support you in navigating this anxiety in a more in-depth way, like a therapist or counselor? I think that could prove really helpful.
Alexa K.
Scarleteen Team

space egg
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Re: How long does sperm last?

Unread postby space egg » Sun Jan 03, 2021 4:07 pm

Thank you so much Alexa, this definitely puts my mind at ease.

I do! I see a therapist on a scheduled basis, but I’m not seeing them again until later this month, and haven’t seen them since early December due to Christmas break, so coping has proven more difficult. Though this forum has helped immensely, I’m definitely going to bring this up with them to find better coping strategies.

Thank you so much for the help, I really appreciate it! I hope whoever is reading this has a lovely day.

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Re: How long does sperm last?

Unread postby Mo » Mon Jan 04, 2021 5:41 pm

I think talking about this specific anxiety with your therapist when you see them next is a great plan. :) I definitely get how having a longer than normal break between appointments can make stressful situations harder to deal with, but hopefully they'll have some helpful thoughts and strategies for you when you see them next!


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