How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

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Dreamlore
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How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Dreamlore » Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:40 am

Hi scarleteen!
I'm new here and and have been suffering with extreme anxiety over the possibility of pregnancy from sperm in the environment; Ive basically convinced myself it is EVERYWHERE and if any so much as touches me or I accidentally touch any left by hands on door handles, public benches, even touching my shoes or the floor I could transfer it when I use the toilet or have an intimate moment with myself etc. and possibly become pregnant.
To clarify I'm not having an active pregnancy scare or asking for specific scenario reassurance I just feel I need better education on how hardy semen is once outside of the body, because I'm confused with the information I've found which gives it a lifespan from a few seconds to even a few hours or a day so it's difficult to know what to believe :/
I can barely even go out, accept deliveries at home or deal with being around males at all because of this fear. I'm in the process of talking to a therapist but the waiting list is long and Im not sure how long it'll take, I just feel very scared and alone!
Thank you in advance for reading ❤️

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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Elise » Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:21 am

Hi Dreamlore, thank you for reaching out to us here and sorry to hear that you are experiencing such acute distress around this. You are taking a great first step in recognising your anxiety, getting yourself in a waiting list for therapy and seeking informed advice.

In the scenarios that you describe, it is not possible for you to become pregnant, as human reproduction does not work in that way. One thing that may help you is re-framing your thinking by understanding that a sperm cell isn't like a virus or bacteria, and pregnancy is not like catching an illness - the sperm is not 'alive', nor can you become pregnant by coming into contact with it in the ways you describe.

Instead, we can describe sperm as a very specific kind of cell, that needs to come into contact with another kind of specific cell (ie. ova, egg) in a highly specific way, setting aside IVF, that specific way is through direct vulval or vaginal contact with semen that has just been ejaculated, during a fertile window in the cycle of the person with the ova. Sperm cells are highly fragile, if all these conditions are not met, pregnancy cannot happen.

Does this explanation help? You can read about this in more detail in this article:

If you have any questions about this or would like to chat about this further, please let us know by responding here.

Also, sometimes it can take a while to work through an intense fear, even when you have information that the fear itself isn't grounded in reality and understand it, the fear response is still happening, that is a really common thing for people. That's where returning to reputable resources like the linked article are useful forms of addressing fears when they arise, and speaking to a therapist about it are great ways to address this.

Dreamlore
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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Dreamlore » Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:06 am

Thank you very much for the reply!

Yes it's extremely debilitating having this kind of anxiety, ive tried reading resources online but the articles all vary so much it just made it worse since I didn't know what to believe! I've never been sexually active so I'm very unsure how many things work, and in my head it sounds so easy for this to happen. I guess it's the uncertainty more than anything that really gets to me, thinking I could be afflicted with a pregnancy I had no control over without even knowing.
I've read that sperm can be viable in the open for over an hour, is there really no way it can cause a pregnancy unless it's being very directly shared genitally with no barrier at the same time of ejaculation?
I know I need psychological help to overcome this and am ready to try hard! It's a difficult thing to discuss since it's such an obscure and disgusting fear I'm very ashamed of. Thank you once again for the response!

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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Sofi » Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:29 am

There's really no way it can! Quoted from the article: "The way people become pregnant is through direct vulval or vaginal contact with semen that is being ejaculated right there and then". Also, sperm can only stay motile for half an hour "out in the open" (outside testicles or a vagina). I hope this information helps ease your anxiety a bit. I also want to say, great job on recognizing this is a fear you can overcome, and taking steps towards doing so!

Dreamlore
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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Dreamlore » Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:45 am

Thank you so much for your time in replying, I feel a little calmer after this and the articles on the site are really informative and reassuring! I hope in the next few weeks I'll be able to start talking therapy and get my life back because I can't even see a way out right now. I wouldn't even have thought about fears like this a few months ago so I know I can get back there with the right tools! Once again thank you for the support ❤️!

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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Sofi » Thu Apr 15, 2021 10:48 am

I'm so glad to hear it. You're very welcome! <3

Dreamlore
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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Dreamlore » Sat Apr 17, 2021 2:23 am

So I have just one more question just to clarify; I don't want to appear as if I'm just seeking reassurance but information is all so varied it confuses me!
So semen/sperm will absolutely NOT survive being moved from place to place? Such as if a person had it on their hands, touched a door handle etc and then it was touched by someone else and they then touched their vulva/vagina? The semen/sperm would 100% not survive that kind of process? I'm having a horrific time getting this possibility out of my head. It would absolutely have to be a sexual scenario for it to even be a possibility? Thank you again I apologise if I'm being a broken record I'm just trying to find strength in facts so I can get back to living my life out of fear!

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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby boosterseat » Sat Apr 17, 2021 6:09 am

Hello Dreamlore,

Yep, it absolutely wouldn't survive! The scenario you mentioned would never result in a pregnancy in real life, and I guess the only reason that it's a popular image is because of patriarchal fearmongering and maybe certain types of bad pornography that use it as a plot point? Also, I realize that it's difficult for you to get these scenarios out of your head, so good on you for trying to find strength in facts, but remember that therapy is the only thing that can get rid of your fear once and for all! Let us know if and when you find a therapist to help you through this. Good luck!

Also, this may be of help. A user had a similar irrational fear of sperm cells, and our founder Heather responded brilliantly: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10739
<3333

Dreamlore
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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Dreamlore » Sat Apr 17, 2021 9:17 am

Oh this was a wonderful thread, a lot of this really rings true for me as well. It's good to know I'm not alone in this fear and it's a matter of anxious and irrational thinking and nothing based in reality! It makes me almost wish I had been sexually active in the past so I would have an idea of how anything sexual works. I don't even know what semen looks like, I doubt I could tell if it was or not if I saw it even! I know I'm very ignorant in this way and I'm glad I've read up on how things actually work.
I'm trying hard with anxiety/ocd self help resources until I can talk with a therapist and I plan to ask to talk to a sexual health professional via my doctor as well too. I'll for sure let you know how I get on and thank you for the kind and patient answers!

Elise
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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Elise » Sat Apr 17, 2021 7:09 pm

Hi Dreamlore, very glad to hear that these resources have been useful and that you're finding good tools to manage your anxieties whilst you're waiting to start with a therapist.

Just in case you find it useful, I wanted to reassure you that being sexually active in and of itself doesn't impart a good working knowledge about human reproduction, sexuality and our bodies in and of itself, that's why sex education is so important and why resources like Scarleteen exist!

Educating yourself through resources and articles is a great thing you are doing for yourself, and there are many sections you can explore here if you'd like to learn more at any point. There is a topic cloud in the header and footer of the site that links to lots of great articles, advice columns and resources.

Dreamlore
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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Dreamlore » Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:23 am

It's a huge help to me to keep me grounded! I've been repeating these facts from the articles back to myself when struggling and I feel like I'm starting to feel things ease in my head a little. If I may ask another question, I'm often using hand sanitizer (we have to at work since it's retail and covid etc), is alcohol based hand sanitizer effective at destroying semen/sperm? I can't really find a clear answer to this anywhere. I feel I could cut down on hand washing more if I know sanitizer is as effective at killing/rendering them immobile or useless. Thank you once again!

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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Heather » Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:25 am

Yep, that works just the same as handwashing does. <3
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Dreamlore
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Re: How effective is sperm/semen outside the body?

Unread postby Dreamlore » Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:23 pm

Thank you so much for clearing that up! I've read through quite a few of the sex ed articles and I'm very grateful for how in depth and educational they are! They go into a lot of detail that others I've read don't and I feel like a reproduction expert now, maybe a change of career is in order lol!


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