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What Is the Fertilization Process?

The fertilization process occurs when a sperm cell joins with an egg cell.
An adult woman's reproductive system.
A positive pregnancy test.
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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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The fertilization process is the meeting of the sperm of the male and the egg of the female during sexual intercourse. It is a vital process which occurs in humans and animals to ensure the continuation of life on the planet. Through the fertilization process, a new life is formed in the egg with characteristics much like the parents. After a certain period of development, the new organism is born.

In humans, the fertilization process most often occurs when sexual intercourse takes place during a woman's fertile or ovulation period. A woman is usually fertile on about the 14th day of her menstrual cycle. Days before the woman ovulates, her cervix secretes mucus, which allows sperm to travel faster towards the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. During ovulation, a mature egg is released by the ovary to the fallopian tube. For about 12 to 24 hours, the mature egg is ready to be fertilized.

Sperm released inside the vagina travel towards the uterus to the fallopian tube to seek out the egg. Hundreds of thousands of sperm may be released during ejaculation, but only one gets to penetrate the egg and start the fertilization process. Sperm are capable of staying alive for 48 to 72 hours inside the female reproductive tract, and can fertilize the egg as soon as ovulation takes place. When sperm and egg meets, a zygote is formed.

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The zygote then undergoes cell division and becomes an embryo. Within five to seven days, the embryo is implanted in the uterus. After implantation, the embryo will undergo many stages of development, which are completed within about nine months inside the womb. During the pregnancy, the female body releases a specific hormone called the human chorionic gonadotrophin hormone (hCG), which can be detected in the urine and blood. A positive test after a missed menstrual period usually indicates that the fertilization process was successful.

The human fertilization process can also occur outside the womb, through the in vitro fertilization process (IVF). Scientists usually perform this procedure to help couples with fertility problems. It is mostly done in the laboratory, wherein mature eggs harvested from the ovaries of the female and sperm from the male are placed in a glass dish for fertilization to occur. An embryo is then implanted in the womb of the woman and allowed to develop and grow naturally. Babies born from this process are sometimes called test tube babies.

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Discuss this Article

MmeSasha
Post 3

I found being relaxed about getting pregnant worked wonders! Once I stopped worrying so much about when I was fertile I became pregnant. Just make sure you take time to pamper yourself and think positively.

ReallyWillie
Post 2

@reallywillie - For many women, they can be fertile at a different time then around the 14th day of their cycle. However, the time frame that you are fertile is likely to be the same each month. For example, it could be the fifth of every month for you.

I would get a fertility monitor or test so you know for sure when you are fertile each month. Good luck!

kaifish
Post 1

I am trying to get pregnant and read that you can be fertile at any time of the month, can this be true?

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