How long does it take for sperm to reach the egg while ovulating? Learn about the sperm and egg fertilization process & find out the average time for sperm to reach the egg. Read more.
Generally, a woman ovulates every month when she is in the reproductive age bracket. During ovulation, the ovaries release mature eggs into the fallopian tube. Upon sexual intercourse, sperms enter the woman’s reproductive system and fertilize them.
Though millions of sperm cells are released into the female’s body during ejaculation, the number drastically reduces to a mere 10,000 to 12,000 by the time they travel upwards to the reproductive organs. About 5000 of them can reach the correct oviduct (the one that carries the eggs). From them, only 1000 can successfully move forward in the fallopian tube and finally, just 200 sperm cells make it to the egg. But even out of these 200 sperms that have reached so far, only one can fertilize the egg successfully.
In this article, let us find answers to questions like the time taken for sperm to reach egg, the activity of the sperm inside the womb, the process of fertilization, tips to increase the chances of pregnancy, ART procedures for infertile couples and more.
Research says that the distance between the vagina and the egg in the fallopian tubes is approximately around 15 cm to 18 cm. Even though this distance may seem very short to us, it is difficult for tiny sperms to travel this far and reach the eggs.
The answer is - just a few minutes. Under normal conditions, a healthy sperm with good motility can cover this distance in about 15 to 45 minutes. But there are cases, where the male gamete may have to wait for several days together in the fallopian tube. The time for sperm to reach the egg can extend when sexual intercourse happens before a woman has started ovulating. Sperms can wait in the reproductive tract for up to 5 days to meet the egg.
To fertilize an egg successfully, a sperm must navigate through the different reproductive organs like the vagina, cervix, uterus, and uterine tube. Also, it should reach the egg faster than its other counterparts.
Some of the common reasons why a sperm may fail to reach the egg can include –
- Poor sperm motility or morphology
- Getting trapped in the cervical mucus
- Entering the wrong fallopian tube (entering a tube that has no eggs in it)
- Getting blocked in the narrow path of the fallopian tube, etc.
Thus, we can understand why the chances of conception are so marginal for many couples despite their having regular unprotected sexual intercourse. Such problems can also be a cause of a couple’s infertility.
Now that we have understood how much time sperms take to reach an egg, let us see what happens after they meet. Many of us may think that fertilization happens as soon as the egg and sperm encounter each other. But this is not the case.
An important procedure called capacitation should happen for the sperm to get ready to penetrate through the outer covering/wall of the egg. Sperm capacitation is a biochemical process that happens in the female reproductive tract. Once this is completed, one out of the 200 sperms that swim to the egg can fertilize it.
The rule of nature is that only one sperm can fertilize one egg. After a sperm has penetrated the female’s egg (that is fertilization is completed), the eggshell called zona pellucida hardens and stops others from entering. In rare cases, if two sperms penetrate the egg at the same time, then there are chances for double fertilization.
After the sperm fertilizes the egg, it multiplies itself into several cells and this cluster then travels back through the fallopian tube into the uterus. Here, the fertilized egg gets implanted in the endometrium. A positive HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) test (home pregnancy test) indicates a pregnancy.
This means that a successful pregnancy is highly dependent on successful fertilization.
A common question that patients ask doctors is how they can increase the possibility of the sperm meeting the egg. Here are some general tips:
- Have physical relations during your ovulation
- Avoid sexual intercourse for at least 5 days before your ovulation starts
- Track your menstrual cycle and ovulation period regularly
- Follow a healthy diet
- Avoid smoking or consuming alcohol
Here are some of the commonly asked questions by the patients:
The female does not experience any special symptoms while fertilization happens inside her body.
In most cases, the use of emergency contraceptives or other birth control measures can help to prevent fertilization after sexual activities.
Generally, it can take about 6 to 10 days for the fertilized egg to attach itself to the uterine walls.
Increased body temperature, change in fluid discharge (like cervical mucus), bloating, breast tenderness, or mild stomach cramps.
If you are facing difficulty in conceiving naturally despite trying for a year or more, then it is necessary to get yourself checked for infertility problems. Such testing should be done by both male and female partners to find out the exact issue that is stopping you from getting pregnant.
Indira IVF provides a free consultation service across all its 115+ centers in India. Through high-end Assisted Reproductive Technology like IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), etc. more than 1,25,000 couples have overcome their fertility issues and started a family at Indira IVF.
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