• 14 Gallons



    Realistic figures

    Numbers of sperm in western man's semen have apparently declined by 50% in the past 40 years, according to a recent academic study. Unsurprisingly, the announcement has resulted in a cascade of follow up articles. Sex stories sell magazines and increase footfall to websites!

    The Guardian, an English language newspaper from the United Kingdom, published an article about the declining sperm counts and suggested that an average man ejaculates 14 gallons of semen in his sexual lifetime. 14 gallons in the United States of America, which is were the figure seems to have come from (see www.menshealth.com), is 52.997 litres.

    The average male ejaculate is 3.7 mL of semen according to the World Health Organisation, though some guys deliver significantly more. So, 14 USA gallons equates to 14,323 average sized shots, which is one a day for roughly 39 years and 3 months.

    The 14 gallons figure caused a lot of correspondence in the United Kingdom, because in the UK 14 gallons converts to 63.645 litres, i.e. 20% more than in the USA.

    The UK and the USA are known to be two countries separated by a common language. Less well known is that they are also two countries separated by different volumetric systems.

    Leave a comment below - tells us what you think.

    Here’s a selection of some of the correspondence printed in the Guardian:

    Andrew Barnard. Staines, Middlesex – In her article (Making babies is beginning to look as difficult for men as it always has for women, 27 July), Suzanne Moore states that the average man “produces 14 gallons of ejaculate in a lifetime”. One doesn’t have to be Einstein to work out that 14 gallons of semen would require 12,740 ejaculations of five millilitres volume (the oft-quoted average). This would mean an average of just over four ejaculations per week, every week for a 60-year period (or five per week over 50 years, etc), say from early teens to early seventies. This seems unlikely. Perhaps Ms Moore is confusing gallons with litres – 14 litres produces rather more believable averages. I think that some proper checking of journalists’ figures is required. 

    Mark Oates. London – Andrew Barnard (Letters, 2 August) wrote in response to Suzanne Moore’s article (Making babies is beginning to look as difficult for men as it always has for women, 27 July) that her statistics were exaggerated and need to be checked because they would mean “an average of just over four ejaculations per week”. Mr Barnard needs to check what his male friends are up to, because a 2007 survey by Cupid Bay suggested men ejaculate on average eight times a week. It may also be worth his while to read the current NHS guidance on avoiding prostate cancer which encourages ejaculating at least 21 times a month. His suggestion that the author might have got her gallons mixed up with litres is laughable and would leave a large number of men hitting the lifetime average in their teenage years.

    Derek Worthing. Bristol – I wonder whether Andrew Barnard has considered that Suzanne Moore’s statistics are correct and that he is just not trying hard enough?

    Meirion Bowen. London – Andrew Barnard is quite right, though I would have thought that ejaculation rates vary according to age – i.e. the frequency is greater from teenage years to about late 40s, but declines thereafter. I’m also curious to know how these figures were obtained. Were men (or their partners) asked to keep records of the number of ejaculations per day over an extended period? I understand also that boars can shoot out 800 milligrams at one go. What fun!

    Paul Tattam. Chinley, Derbyshire – Suzanne Moore estimated total male ejaculate at 14 gallons, Andrew Barnard thought it more likely to be 14 litres, but I reckon Max got it just about right in Phoenix Nights when he confided to Paddy that he’d only been allotted “a bucket and an ’alf”. According to my garden bucket that amounts to 20 litres.

    David Collins. Kidderminster, Worcestershire – I must dispute Andrew Barnard’s “oft-quoted average” volume of ejaculate as 5ml. As any pop fan with an interest in band name derivations knows, a “Lovin’ Spoonful” is “10cc”. This immediately reduces the average lifetime’s ejaculations to a more realistic 6,370. 

    Ian Grieve. "Gordon Bennett", Shropshire Union canal  After a brief discussion with my wife about the ongoing debate quantifying male ejaculation (Letters, 5 August), I have been told in no uncertain terms to keep my hands, and anything else, away from our measuring jug.

    Adrian Brodkin. London  Eight times a week? Fourteen gallons? Fourteen litres? 6,370 ejaculations per lifetime? The figures given for ejaculation statistics differ wildly but surely, as between all these numbers, it is appropriate for there to be a vas deferens? 

    Chris Baker. Willington, Derbyshire  Has the stream of letters about ejaculation reached its climax (Letters 8 August) or are there lots more to come?


    Michael Cunningham, Wolverhampton  Chris Baker wonders whether the ejaculation letters have reached a climax (Letters, 10 August). Is it possible that  your male correspondents have finished sooner than their female counterparts? 

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