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Preconception Topics..

You are here : home > Preconception > How Babies are Made - The Basics > The Sperm's Odyssey in the Female Reproductive Tract

The Sperm's Odyssey in the Female Reproductive Tract

The Sperm

The Reproductive System of a woman
The Menstrual Cycle
The Hormones
The Reproductive System of a Man
The Role of Testosterone
The Sperm's Odyssey in the Female Reproductive Tract
The Process of Fertilisation

The Sperm's Odyssey in the Female Reproductive Tract

  A million million spermatozoa,
  All of them alive;
  Out of their cataclysm but one poor Noah
  Dare hope to survive. 

Aldous Huxley

When a man and woman have sexual intercourse, the man places his erect penis inside the woman's vagina. Here it releases millions of sperm when ejaculation occurs. Once the sperm have been deposited here they have a long and arduous journey ahead of them, like salmon entering the mouth of a river to swim upstream to spawn. Some of the sperm swim straight up into the fallopian tubes through the cervix and uterus - and some of them are so fast, that sperms have been found in the tubes in as little as a few minutes after ejaculation. Some sperms die in the acidic vaginal fluid; and some enter the cervical mucus and cervical crypts. They are stored here and can remain alive here for as long as 48 to 72 hours. During this time, the sperms are released in small numbers and these continue to swim towards the fallopian tubes. This is why you don't need to have sex every day to get pregnant even though the egg remains alive for only 24 hours. Sperms in the female reproductive tract swim under their own steam - as a result of the whip- like activity of their tail which propels them on. Of the millions of sperms released in an ejaculate, only a few hundred will make the arduous trip upto the egg successfully. Perhaps this is why so many millions of sperms are produced in the first place even though only one is needed to fertilise the egg - because the wastage is so prodigal. 

How does the egg reach the tube? When ovulation occurs, the mature egg is released from the follicle in the ovary. This process of follicular rupture looks a bit like a small volcano erupting on the ovarian surface. At this time, the tubal fimbria, like tentacles, sweep over the surface of the ovary, and actually " swallow" the egg. The egg has a shell, called the zona pellucida, which looks like the ring around Saturn. It is surrounded by a cluster of nest cells called the corona cells which serve to nurture the egg. They form the cumulus oophorus which is a sticky gel which protects the egg and also helps the beating of the hair-like cilia of the fallopian tube to propel the egg towards the uterus - like a conveyor-belt. The egg must now wait in the protective confines of the fallopian tube, for a sperm to swim up and reach it. 

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The Hormones
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Parth.7 years ago
The journey of sperms inside the female reproductive tract seems like a magic. Millions of sperms are released but only one is able to fertilize the egg. Truly a remarkable process.
Tusha.7 years ago
Never knew about the complex process of fertilization. This article explains in simple language about what happens to sperm and egg after their release.
Rikki.7 years ago
this is an excellent article explaining about the process of fertilization in layman language which everybody is able to understand.
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