Getting pregnant is not an easy task, but understanding the essential physiology of the process is the best place to start. In this chapter I will describe the arduous journey that sperm must make through the female genitals to reach the egg, as well as the simultaneous adventure of the egg during which it matures to become genetically ready for fertilization, erupts from the ovary, and gets grabbed by the fallopian tube, fertilized, and then hustled along into the womb at exactly the right moment to implant. Failure of the sperm or egg to make an important connection anywhere along this complicated itinerary will prevent pregnancy from occurring.
The cervical mucus method, also called the Billings Ovulation Method, is a type of natural family planning also known as fertility awareness-based methods. The cervical mucus method is based on careful observation of mucus patterns during the course of your menstrual cycle. Before ovulation, cervical secretions change — creating an environment that helps sperm travel through the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes to the egg.
PIP: The process of sperm transport is followed from ejaculate, through deposition in the vagina, into the oviducts where fertilization occurs. The cyclic influence of the sex hormones, governed by the female menstrual cycle, causes characteristic changes in the entire genital tract, resulting in different secretions, some of which are more favorable to the survival of sperm in their transport through the female genital tract. The level of acidity in the vagina can be influenced by sexual behavior and by secretions of the upper genital tract.
There are approximately million sperm in each human ejaculation, but only about 2 million sperm make it into the cervix. Out of the approximately 2 million sperm entering the cervix, only about 1 million make it into the uterus. The rest are stopped by gooey mucus, or swim into dead-end channels inside the walls of the cervix.
Soap opera villains with ulterior motives can stop reading. Everyone else, listen up: There's a lot you can do to thwart accidental pregnancies—they're usually the result of birth-control cluelessness or carelessness. According to the Guttmacher Institute, each year more than half of pregnancies among American women are unplanned, primarily because the women did not use contraception properly or forgot to use it at all.
Achieving a healthy pregnancy is a complicated, multi-stage process involving two people. Every month, the female ovulates one mature egg from one of her ovaries. Here, it will begin to move slowly down the tube towards the womb uterus.
Suarez, A. At coitus, human sperm are deposited into the anterior vagina, where, to avoid vaginal acid and immune responses, they quickly contact cervical mucus and enter the cervix. Cervical mucus filters out sperm with poor morphology and motility and as such only a minority of ejaculated sperm actually enter the cervix.
Fig 1. The journey begins with millions of sperm cells that are released into the female reproductive tract during intercourse. The sperm cells gain their full ability to swim when they are ejaculated into the reproductive tract [ 1 ],[ 2 ]. Upon ejaculation, the sperm cells are enclosed in a fluid called seminal plasma or semen, which is a mix of fluids from the testes, seminal vesicles, prostate, and the bulbourethral glands.
PIP: Sperm transport was characterized on optimal, controlled, assessable conditions in this study. Subjects were women who had requested surgical sterilization. All subjects were restricted from coitus for days preoperatively.