For a women to conceive, her egg has to be fertilized. Even when the woman has a healthy egg and the man has healthy sperm, it can still be difficult to conceive. The amount of time that it takes for sperm to fertilize and egg can vary significantly from person to person or case to case.
How Long Does It Take to Fertilize an Egg?
To have an egg fertilized successfully, you need to have a high enough sperm count. Although a single sperm can in theory fertilize a sperm, a higher sperm count increases the chances. The average, healthy man has an average of 40 million to 150 million sperm. After sexual intercourse, the sperm travel through the vaginal canal to the Fallopian tubes. If an egg is present and ready to be fertilized, the woman will become pregnant. In general, the fastest sperm can swim to the woman’s eggs within 30 minutes. Slower sperm take up to several days to reach the eggs. On average, sperm will only live in the female reproductive organs for about 48 hours to 72 hours. After this time period, they begin to die out.
Although millions of sperm may enter the woman’s body, only a few hundred or less will actually reach the egg. Once it does reach the egg, a single sperm that swam the fastest will penetrate the egg. After this happens, the sperm and egg become a zygote. Rapid cell multiplication leads to the formation of an embryo. This later becomes a fetus, and transforms into a baby after nine months.
How Does Conception Actually Work?
To understand how long it takes for an egg to become fertilized, you have to understand how conception actually works.
Ovulation: Roughly two weeks after the woman’s menstrual cycle restarts, her ovaries realize a mature egg that is ready for fertilization if sperm is present.
Traveling to the Fallopian Tube: Once the egg is released, it travels from the ovaries into the Fallopian tubes. It will remain in this area until a sperm fertilizes it. If sperm does not fertilize the egg, the female’s body will flush out the egg and any tissue when her menstrual cycle begins.
The Journey of the Sperm: Meanwhile, millions of sperm are released when the male ejaculates into the woman. At most, perhaps several hundred of these sperm actually reach the egg within 30 minutes or so after ejaculation.
The Sperm Reaches the Egg: Once a sperm reaches the egg, it penetrates the egg and forms a zygote. After this happens, no other sperm can enter the egg and the baby’s gender is determined by the blend of chromosomes present. The entire fertilization process takes about 24 hours.
Cell Division: Now that the egg is a zygote, it has to start dividing to make an embryo. The fertilized egg travels down the Fallopian tubes to the uterus. If the fertilized egg remains in the Fallopian tubes, it can cause an ectopic pregnancy and can be life threatening for the mother.
Implantation: Once the fertilized egg successfully reaches the uterus, it implants on the uterine wall.
Pregnancy Hormones: The implantation of the egg signals to the woman’s body that she is pregnant. Over the next few weeks, the woman’s levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) increase. Within three to four weeks, the increase in hCG will show up on a pregnancy test and the woman will realize that she is pregnant.
Fetal Development: Within the uterus, the placenta and embryo begin to grow. Over the next few months, the brain, spinal cord and organs start to develop. At eight weeks of age, the embryo officially becomes a fetus.
How Can You Increase Your Chances of Conceiving?
Quit Smoking: Smoking lowers fertility in men and women. It also increases the chances of damage to the fetus in pregnant woman and heightens the risks of a miscarriage.
Protect Sperm: For the best chances of conceiving, men need to have a high sperm count. Avoiding saunas, hot tubs, hot showers and close-fitting underwear will help men to keep their sperm levels up.
Watch Your Weight: A healthy weight and solid exercise routine will help you to become pregnant.
Track Your Ovulation: For the best chances of becoming pregnant, you have to have sex during times when you are ovulating. Start having sex three days before ovulation and continue until your basal temperature goes back to normal.
Watch Out for Harmful Exposure: Chemicals, toxins and environmental contaminants can decrease your chances of becoming pregnant. Common toxins are found in printing presses, dry cleaners, agricultural pesticides and cleaning agents. To have the best chance of becoming pregnant, you need to avoid all sources of chemicals and environmental contaminants.
Have More Sex: Although you can track ovulation and be somewhat accurate, it is always possible that your body could release an egg at any time of the month. To have the best chance of becoming pregnant, relax and have sex frequently, This increases the chances that you will become pregnant, and it can be enjoyable for both partners.
Watch What You Drink: Excessive amounts of alcohol or coffee can decrease your chances of becoming pregnant. You should either avoid caffeine or alcohol completely or drink moderately if you want to become pregnant.
Be Careful About Your Lubricants: Some lubricants use spermicides, which actually kill off the sperm that could make you pregnant. Water-based lubricants can also slow down the sperm. Stick to olive or coconut oil if you need a lubricant.