Couples trying to conceive may save themselves from a lot of heartache and stress if they know their bodies well! If we have this knowledge, we can support our bodies in its function…even help ourselves to conceive a baby successfully!
The male reproductive organs produce sperms, and the female reproductive organs produce ovum or egg. The sperm and the egg fuse, which is known as fertilization, to form, what is called a zygote, which grows inside the womb into a baby.
Fertilization of the ovum by the sperm cell takes place in the female reproductive system. The female reproductive system includes:
Ovaries are a pair of oval shaped organs responsible to produce egg cells or ova. In females, ova are present at birth and they start maturing after puberty under the influence of female sex hormones. When the ovary releases an egg, the process is called ovulation.
The egg or ovum is produced in the ovary. The female baby may have about one to two million eggs in the ovary even before the birth. However, these eggs do not mature until puberty. As the female reaches puberty, the hormones produced by the brain promote maturation of these eggs. Most of the eggs waste away leaving around 300000 eggs during puberty, which remain dormant until the hormones promote their maturation. Out of these, only 400 eggs may mature and release during a woman’s lifetime.
There are two fallopian tubes, which are funnel shaped tubes connecting the uterus to the ovary. They have finger-like projections at the end which help capture the released egg at ovulation. Fertilization, or the fusion of egg and sperm, takes place inside the fallopian tubes.
Uterus is a highly muscular organ whose lining thicken every month in response to the female hormones. This uterine lining is what the fertilized egg gets attached to. In case there is no fertilized egg available, this thick blood vessel rich lining is shed at the end of every menstrual month. The development of foetus or embryo takes place inside the uterus. Uterus directly opens into the vagina, which acts as a birth canal during labor.
Vagina is a muscular canal which provides a passageway for the menstrual flow during menstruation, for the baby during childbirth and receives the sperm during intercourse
Vulva includes the external reproductive organs of the female reproductive system. The secretions of the vulva aid in the lubrication of penis during intercourse.
During sexual intercourse, vagina of the female reproductive system receives the sperm after ejaculation. Only one sperm can fertilize an egg or an ovum. On entry into the vagina, the sperm swims up the vaginal tract into the uterus and the fallopian tube where it fertilizes a mature egg. The fertilized ovum or the zygote then moves to the uterus, and gets implanted. The development of the foetus or the embryo continues after the implantation in the uterus.
An unfertilized egg survives in a female reproductive system for a maximum of two days post ovulation; and hence for a successful conception, the timing of sexual intercourse should be near the time of ovulation.
Hormones, are chemical that are produced in our bodies from various glands. Each hormone has a specific function to perform. Hormones from the pituitary gland in the brain and the hormones produced by some organs of the reproductive system help in the maturation of reproductive system and in the development of sexual characteristics in humans. These hormones are different in males and females. These hormones also affect the reproductive ability of the individuals.
Hormones have a crucial role in production and maturation of sperms and eggs. In females, the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) helps in maturation of the egg. The luteinizing hormone (LH) helps the egg to be released from the ovary. Estrogen and progesterone are important female hormones that help in regulation of menstrual cycle, and also promotes pregnancy if conception takes place.
In men, testosterone hormone is crucial for production of sperms and maintaining fertility.