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Getting Pregnant: How Pregnancy, Fertilization Works

Getting Pregnant: How Pregnancy, Fertilization Works Getting Pregnant: How Pregnancy, Fertilization Works

Pregnancy and childbirth are major events in a woman´s life, bringing a new being into the world. They are also sources of great pleasure experienced only by women. By learning about the mechanisms of pregnancy and childbirth you can come to a closer understanding of your body as a woman.

How pregnancy works

How fertilization works

How fertilization works

The sperm that enter the vagina move to the entrance of the uterus, whereas the egg moves to the ampulla of the uterine tube to wait for the sperm.

Fertilization is possible for 24 hours after ovulation

The egg is about 0.1 mm in diameter. After ovulation, when the egg comes out of the ovary, it is delivered to the uterine tube by way of the fimbriae of the uterine tube, and waits for the sperm to arrive in a more spacious area (the ampulla of the uterine tube).

The lifespan of an unfertilized egg is approximately 24 hours, which is the only time in which conception is possible. Pregnancy will not occur if the egg cannot reach the fimbriae of the uterine tube, or cannot meet the sperm.

Fertilization occurs when 1 of the approximately 100 million -300 million sperm cells meet the egg

The sperm cells are generated in a man´s orchis (testicle), and accumulate in the epididymis before they can be ejaculated. About 300 million sperm are released in a single ejaculation. The sperm cells, each one about 0.06 mm in diameter, enter the vagina and move up to the entrance of the uterus. After that, fewer than 200 of them actually reach the uterine tube. In the end, only one sperm can reach the inside of the egg that it meets at the ampulla of the uterine tube. This is how fertilization occurs.

The male sexual organ

The male sexual organ

The seminal vesicle and prostate gland

These organs secrete the mucus necessary for the production of seminal fluid. The sperm are resistant to alkali and are vulnerable to acid. The mucus provides the environment that is necessary and conducive to the survival and activity of the sperm.

The seminal duct

This is a tube stretching about 35-40 cm out from the epididymis, through which the sperm pass. It connects to the uretheral tube inside the prostate gland.

The epididymis

This is located above the orchis (testicle) inside the scrotum. It collects and temporarily stocks the sperm. It is connected to the seminal duct by a tube.

Orchis (testicle)

The orchis (testicle) and the epididymis are protected by the scrotum. The orchis (testicle) is an oval-shaped organ which is about 4 cm in diameter lengthwise, and about 3 cm in diameter along its width. This is the male equivalent to the ovary. Sperm are produced here. Also, the orchis (testicle) has an important role of producing the male hormone. Why is such an important organ located in such an exposed part of the body? This is because a low temperature is needed in order to produce the sperm. The temperature of the human body is too high to produce sperm and so the orchis (testicle) is located low in the scrotum. There are two testes, a left and right testicle, in a scrotum, with the left one located a little lower than the right one. They are naturally arranged so that they don´t get in the way when walking. As the testes are protected within firm membranes, the insides are not easily bruised. However, because the scrotum is exposed, it can often be exposed to pain.

The scrotum

The scrotum is a bag that contains the orchis (testicle) and the epididymis. This is the male equivalent to a woman´s labia majora. At puberty, its skin becomes darker and it is surrounded by pubic hair. The scrotum has a structure appropriate for protecting the orchis (testicle), an important organ that produces sperm. There are many wrinkles on the surface of the scrotum, which serve as a cooling radiator for the sperm, as they are vulnerable to changes in temperature. The larger the surface area is, the more efficiently it radiates heat away. Also, when it is cold, the scrotum shrinks to bring the orchis (testicle) closer to the body to keep the testicles warm.

The penis

The penis wraps around the urethral tube. For men, the urethral tube is not only the passage for passing urine but also for the transport of semen during ejaculation. The inside of the penis consists of the corpus spongiosum, a sponge-like tissue. When a man gets sexually aroused, the amount of blood that flows into the penis increases rapidly, which causes the corpus spongiosum to be engorged with blood and which results in an erection. The tip of the penis is called the glans penis. This is the male equivalent of a woman´s clitoris, and it is the most sensitive part of the organ. The penis is covered with a skin called the prepuce. Starting from puberty, the glans penis is exposed due to the peeling of the prepuce. (Sometimes the glans penis is not exposed. This condition is called phimosis.)

The urethral tube

This is usually used for passing urine, however, it becomes a corridor for semen to pass through during ejaculation. This is different from women´s bodies, where the genital opening has no other purpose. The urethral tube has an elaborate structure in order to pass semen. Usually it is acidic due to urine, but when a man gets sexually aroused, it secretes an alkaline mucus to protect the sperm.

Implantation establishes pregnancy

When the sperm fuses with the egg, the egg is said to have been fertilized. The fertilized egg moves to the uterus while its cells divide repeatedly. By the time it reaches the uterus, the fertilized egg will have become a lump of more than 100 cells.

In the meantime, the uterus prepares the bed (the uterine lining) for the fertilized egg to settle in. The female hormone makes the uterine lining thick and soft. The fertilized egg that arrives in the uterus settles on the lining of the uterus as if laying down roots. This act is called implantation, and signifies the beginning of a pregnancy.

Planning a pregnancy

Make sure you take medical checks before getting pregnant

When you want to have a baby, do a series of medical checks at hospital in preparation, to see if you have any diseases that may affect your body or that of the baby. If you know about any disease you may have in advance, you can treat it ahead of time and consider any precautions you may need to take during pregnancy.

Quit smoking or drinking alcohol

Once you decide to have a baby, quit smoking or drinking alcohol. If you quit when you know you are pregnant, the fetus should not be affected that much. However, if you continue smoking or drinking, it may have consequences for the fetus.

Smoking during pregnancy affects the growth of the fetus. It is a known cause of underweight babies and premature births. If you have smokers in your family, ask them to support you by quitting smoking too in order to prevent second-hand smoking, or you might designate a separate smoking area in the home.

You should also refrain from drinking alcohol. If a mother is addicted to alcohol, her baby may be subject to learning difficulties, delays in development, or deformity. This is referred to as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Although this is an extreme result, caused by excessive daily drinking, you might as well refrain from drinking if you wish to get pregnant.

Consult a doctor about taking medication

Make sure to consult a doctor about any medication you are taking. Non-prescription drugs such as cold medicines do not have much impact as long as you stop taking them when you find out you are pregnant. However, if you are on regular medication, it is important to consult your doctor about it. If you are really worried, you can also ask to be treated as an outpatient. We recommend you to call the clinic in advance as office days may be limited and consultations are subject to fees.

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