Stages of Conception Related to Infertility
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How are sperm and eggs produced?
In both men and women, there are stages of conception which, if completed appropriately, lead to fertility and conception. These stages are distinct and precise, so if there are any anomalies, missed steps or interruptions, infertility can occur.
In men, the stages of conception include:
- Sperm is produced in the seminiferous tubules, which are lined with approximately 13 rows of baby sperm cells, in different stages of development. These baby sperm cells are called "stem" cells.
- These stem cells being to divide to create "daughter" cells which will eventually mature into spermatocytes (sperm-at-oh-sites) or something like "toddler" sperm. This is in response to testosterone.
- The "toddler sperm" will continue to mature to become spermatids (sperm-ah-tids) or "teenage" sperm.
- The "teenage sperm" continue to mature to become adult sperm or spermatozoa (sperm-at-oh-zoh-uh), though they are not very mobile at this time.
- The adult sperm are carried to the epididymis - tubes where they will develop defined heads and tails, and where they will be stored until needed. They can hold approximately 440 million sperm.
- There are 6 distinct parts to that maturation of sperm, which take a total of 74 days to complete.
In women, there are also specific stages in conception:
- Women are born with all of the eggs or ova that they will ever have, these eggs are stored in the ovaries, in an immature state, and number approximately 400, 000 at time of puberty.
- In response to a hormone called "follicle-stimulating hormone" or FHS, the ovary begins to mature about 20 ova, inside small follicles in the ovary. This process stimulates the production of estrogen.
- As the estrogen level rises, it signals the uterus to begin reproducing the cells in its lining, in preparation for receiving an ova.
- A third hormone, called luteinizing (loo-tin-eye-zing) hormone or LH, then encourages the ripening of the follicle, and stimulates it to rupture, to release the mature ova.
- The mature ova travels into the fallopian (fuh-lo-pee-an) tube, where it hopes to become fertilized. Fertilization must occur within 72 hours of release, or the ova will die.
- If fertilized, when it reaches the uterus, it will attach to the wall of the uterus and being to divide, creating a fetus. If it is not fertilized, it will reach the wall, the wall will recognize the hormonal signature of non-fertilization, and the lining of the uterus will shed, causing a "period."
As you can see, the stages of conception involve many complex steps that, if one step is altered, can result in infertility. Your Infertility Specialist can evaluate you to determine if there are errors or alterations in your stages of conception which are preventing pregnancy.