In simple terms, conception results from the fertilization of an ovum by the sperm. However, in true sense, the entire process is much more dynamic and complex. It is an amazing process, where a series of events need to occur in the right manner and sequence for life to begin.
How does conception take place?
– The process of conception begins soon after the intercourse. The journey of sperms in search of the ovum, fertilization, and then implantation is what constitutes conception in true sense. Every stage is crucial and failure at any stage means pregnancy cannot happen.
Transportation of the sperms: Not all sperms that get ejaculated survive. While some may be lost along the way, others manage to swim along the cervix, into the uterus. During a woman’s fertile period, the cervical mucus changes in character, and becomes more sperm friendly in nature in order to facilitate their effective transport. Once the sperms travel through the cervix and reach the uterus, they are propelled into the fallopian tubes by uterine contractions. The sperms can survive in the fallopian tube for up to 48 hours.
– Fertilization: soon after ovulation, the egg is picked up by the fallopian tube and it remains alive in the tube for 24 hours. Conception occurs when a sperm manages to penetrate into the egg. Sperms carry a special substance that can dissolve the outer layer of the egg so that penetration occurs. Conception occurs most probably, at the outer end of the fallopian tube. Once the successful sperm penetrates the egg, no other sperm can enter. The fusion of the sperm and egg results in the formation of an embryo, which rapidly undergoes a series of cell divisions. As the zygote travels along the tube to reach the uterus, it undergoes massive changes, with the development of different layers and irregular villous extensions.
– Implantation: once the fertilized egg reaches the uterus, it begins to embed itself into the soft inner lining of the uterus. This process is called ‘Implantation’ and it is essential for conception to be successful. If the fertilized egg does not attach to the uterus, conception is not complete and pregnancy does not occur. When implantation does occur, some women may experience some kind of a light spotting, which is termed as “Implantation bleeding”. After the embryo gets embedded, sponge like fingers extend from the embryo and burrow into the uterine wall, to link up with the mothers blood vessels. This later develops into the placenta. The embryo continues to undergo rapid cell divisions to form the membranes, umbilical cord and the fetus.
With the implantation of the embryo in the uterus, the process of conception is complete. Extensive changes begin in the uterus and the rest of the body. These changes mark the beginning of pregnancy.