Sperm vs. Semen vs. Egg: What do they do?

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Difference between Sperm, Semen and Egg

The terms sperm and semen are often interchanged erroneously, but the word egg here is certainly not the one we have for breakfast. Both sperm and egg are actually cells that come together to form offspring, as with what happens during conception. Semen, on the other hand, is a fluid that holds millions of sperm cells together. Here is a clearer explanation. 



The word sperm comes from the Greek term for ‘seed’. A sperm cell is referred to as the reproductive cells of males, because it’s used to make “make” babies. Under a microscope, a human sperm cell has a head, a middle body and a very long tail to help it to swim.

Semen is a liquid produced by a male’s reproductive glands to serve as home to the sperm cells. The sperm cells swim around and gather nutrition from this fluid. Semen is primarily composed of protein and glucose to nourish the sperm.

Egg cells or ova are the reproductive cells of females. It is this cell that thousands of sperm cells meet to produce an offspring. In humans, egg cells are round and are millions of times bigger than sperm cells.


In humans, sperm cells are produced by the male gonads, or the testicles. From puberty, the testicles produce millions and millions of sperm cells which are carried out of the male body through semen. 

Semen is produced by the prostate, bulbourethral glands and seminal vesicles, all part of the male reproductive system.

In humans, egg cells are produced by a woman’s ovaries. Only one egg cell is released by alternating ovaries per month. If this egg cell gets fertilized, it then becomes a fetus. If it isn't, it is flushed out of the body through menstruation.

Function in Reproduction

Millions of sperm cells are released from a male and swim into a woman’s body until they find the egg. They then compete, but in the end, only one single sperm cell gets to fertilize the egg and make a baby.

Sperm is there to help the sperm cells to leave the male’s body and meet the egg cell inside the female’s body. Semen also neutralizes the acidity of the female vagina so that the sperm cells don’t die before meeting the egg.

An egg cell that has been released will wait for a sperm cell to combine with it, and if there is one, it shall be fertilized, develop into an embryo, then a fetus for 9 months inside the female’s body. 


  • A sperm cell is the male reproductive cell while the egg cell is the females. Semen is the fluid that holds sperm cells and deposits them into the female.
  • Sperms are created by the testicles, the eggs by the ovaries. Semen is created by male glands.
  • Sperms are produced in millions every 90 days. Eggs are produced once a month but only one survives to make the journey to the uterus. Semen is produced before ejaculation.
  • Only one sperm cell fertilizes one egg cell to make a baby.  


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