How Long Does It Take to Fertilize an Egg?

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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.

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135 COMMENTS

  1. My period is not regular thou I don’t no how to calculate it or even no time for my ovulation but I have a question after some spotting my period stated 1st of may and supposed to end 5th but it spotted after the 5th day I had sex on 10th,12th and13th of may and my fiance ejaculated inside me but during the course of this sex blood always come out of my body, now I do feel stomach bite could it be am pregnant and am I in my time of pregnancy pls tell me

    • It is possible, but it would be hard to tell since you do not have a regular menstrual cycle or regular ovulation. Since you just had your period on the first of May, I would test after the 28th at least–or wait until June just to be sure that the test will be accurate.

    • You could be pregnant, but you are not going to have a positive pregnancy test for a couple of weeks. It takes time (as in days, not hours), for the egg to implant itself in the uterine wall. Until then, your hCG levels are not going to start rising. Until hCG levels are high enough to test, you won’t be able to find out if you are pregnant or not.

  2. Hi! So I had unprotected sex early in April and had a one day very light period. I thought it may be implantation bleeding but I’ve Took a hpt on the 29th of April and it was a bfn.
    I ovulated May 3rd or 4th and had unprotected sex on the 30th of April, and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th of May. I’m experiencing some early signs such as having to pee a lot and very tender breasts. I’m also having low back pain.
    Could it be possible that I’m pregnant and it’s not showing up on the tests yet?

    • You weren’t pregnant this month, but it is possible that you could have conceived in the last few days. Implantation probably hasn’t even occurred yet though, so your body would not make a positive result. If you did get pregnant this month, you will have to wait until after your period was supposed to start to test and be sure. Good luck!

  3. Had iud in for 9 months , had unprotected sex 4/28 (day I removed my iud) then had unprotected sex may 4th but my partner was not sure he ejaculated because we had used an enhancer . Then we had unprotected sex on 5/6 & he came twice in me . I’ve been feeling nauseous. Could it be that I conceived the day of removal ? I had the skyla iud

    • It is possible, but you may need to wait a bit longer to find out for sure. You can take a pregnancy test once you miss your expected period date and find out. Good luck, Nana!

  4. I had unprotected sex on April 3rd. My period started on April 7. My period arrives like clockwork; start out very heavy w/ severe cramping on the day I’m getting it & remain that way for 2-3 days before gradually getting lighter. They always last 7 days, and I never spot. I was due for my period on May 6th. I started cramping and spotting on the 2nd of May & 4 days later my period is still not normal. Very thin, very light blood flow but lots of cramping. Is there any possibility I could be pregnant?

    • Certain lifestyle factors like stress, diet, illnesses or exercise can change the timing and intensity of your menstrual cycle. You are probably just experiencing a slightly abnormal menstrual cycle or an early miscarriage. If you experience other symptoms, go to your doctor. Also, you can always take a pregnancy test if you are still worried just to know for sure.

  5. I am on birth control pill and due for my period in five days on May 10th. I had unprotected sex on May 4th. Could I still be pregnant even without ovulating or an egg? Will I have to wait for my next period a month from now to know?

    • Yes, you could be, although probably not if you used your birth control correctly. While you generally do not ovulate on that time of the month, your body does not always follow this schedule perfectly. You do not have to wait a month to find out. You can take a pregnancy test if you miss your period on the 10th and find out right away. If your period starts on the 10th, then you are definitely not pregnant. Since you are on birth control, your chances are much, much lower–especially if you have taken it exactly according to your doctor’s instructions.

  6. I had sex on Valentine’s Day on the 20th I started my period or what I thought was my period there usually on the first of every month. But I went to the hospital on April 17th and the doctor said I was 6 weeks and 6 days is it possible I conceived on Valentine’s Day or could It have to be sometime on march 1st?????????

    • It is certainly possible that your pregnancy was conceived during either of these dates. Congratulations! Have a great day, Jenny!

  7. Okay so i had unprotected sex on march 30 and march 31 and my period was march 16 to march 21…so its been almost a month and i missed my period and am 12 days late ive always had regular periods tho…i took a pregnancy test n got a negative…but i gained 16 pound n have a lil belly could i be pregnant n be having false negatives

    • It is highly unlikely that pregnancy would cause you to cause 16 pounds in one month. However, since you are 12 days late or your period, then it is certainly possible that you are pregnant. Take a pregnancy in five days. Make an appointment with a medical professional to confirm the result of your test. Best of luck, Joy!

  8. Okay so i had unprotected sex on march 30 and march 31 and my period was march 16 to march 21…so its been almost a month and i missed my period and am 12 days late ive always had regular periods tho…i took a pregnancy test n got a negative…but i gained 16 pound n have a lil belly could i be pregnant n be having false negatives

    • It is highly unlikely that pregnancy would cause you to cause 16 pounds in one month. However, since you are 12 days late or your period, then it is certainly possible that you are pregnant. Take a pregnancy in five days. Make an appointment with a medical professional to confirm the result of your test. Best of luck, Unknown!

  9. hi i am confused, my last period was last month on the 17 march 2017 to 18 march 2017 and i had sex on 09 April so i have this early symptoms like milky discharge and am not in my period yet…does that mean am pregnant?

    • It is possible that you are pregnancy and experiencing symptoms of pregnancy. Continue to monitor the experiences that you are having. If you miss your period by five days, then take a pregnancy test at that time. You can confirm the result of your test with a medical professional. Best of luck, Lilly!

  10. Hi so I started my period this month on march19,2017-march23,2017, I have hypo thyroid disease so my periods are a little irregular but I check my cervix regularly and right now I am fertile until April 1,2017 but my cervix is low,hard,moist and some what closed. I had sex march24,2017 and march30,2017 . What’s the chances of me getting pregnant? Please help me with this…thanks

    • About half of couples conceive within the first four to five months of trying, and 85 percent conceive within the first year. If you aren’t pregnant this month, your chances of getting pregnant in the next few months is pretty good. Good luck, Jasmine!

  11. I am so confused! Okay so im going to be really specific hope its not t.m.i so first off i have a 17 month old that i still breastfeed mostly naps n night time so my period has been irregular but i had what i felt was a normal period March 11 n lasted 6 days prior to my cycle i might of had sex once the week before but 3 days after my cycle stopped i started lightly spotting only when i wipped that night it started i had sex n then 2 days later on March 22 I went to the doc n she ended up calling me when i got home n said the test came back positive but it took a while n was lite so 2 days later i went back to doc on 24 n another positive all this time im still spotting but sometimes mucus blood n sometimes lite pink then on the 25 i had some clots so i instantly went to hospital n they did a blood test n said my hcg level is 54 n that im possible aweek or two today is the 27th n still spotting but only clots that one time they warned mybi may be experencing a miscarriage but is it possible that i got pregnant on the 20th the last time i had sex n it showed up 2 days later?

    • It seemed like you commented twice on this one. I have to answer and approve each comment individually, so it may take me a little while to answer all of them. If you do not see a response right away, do not worry because you will. Read through my last response and let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for commenting!

  12. I am so confused! Okay so im going to be really specific hope its not t.m.i so first off i have a 17 month old that i still breastfeed mostly naps n night time so my period has been irregular but i had what i felt was a normal period March 11 n lasted 6 days prior to my cycle i might of had sex once the week before but 3 days after my cycle stopped i started lightly spotting only when i wipped that night it started i had sex n then 2 days later on March 22 I went to the doc n she ended up calling me when i got home n said the test came back positive but it took a while n was lite so 2 days later i went back to doc on 24 n another positive all this time im still spotting but sometimes mucus blood n sometimes lite pink then on the 25 i had some clots so i instantly went to hospital n they did a blood test n said my hcg level is 54 n that im possible aweek or two today is the 27th n still spotting but only clots that one time they warned mybi may be experencing a miscarriage but is it possible that i got pregnant on the 20th the last time i had sex n it showed up 2 days later?

    • It is unlikely that you had a positive pregnancy test two days after conceiving, so you probably conceived earlier than that. As for the threatened miscarriage, all you can really do at the moment is wait and see what happens. Keep in touch with your doctor and return to your doctor if you experience any unusual or more severe symptoms. Hopefully, your body will be able to work things out without a problem.

  13. My cycle started Feb.20 or 21. March 5th I had sex and March 7-10 I was spotting. Not enough to get on a pad, but was present t when I wiped. I normally have a 28 day cycle.Could I be pregnant?

    • It seemed like you commented twice on this one. I have to answer and approve each comment individually, so it may take me a little while to answer all of them. If you do not see a response right away, do not worry because you will. Read through my last response and let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for commenting!

  14. My cycle started Feb.20 or 21. March 5th I had sex and March 7-10 I was spotting. Not enough to get on a pad, but was present t when I wiped. I normally have a 28 day cycle.

    • It is possible that you experienced implantation bleeding and could be pregnant. It is also possible that it was just breakthrough bleeding and a slightly irregular cycle. Since you could be pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test. Your menstrual cycle should have started about a week ago, so it should be late enough for you to take a pregnancy test and have it be accurate. Good luck, Sunshyne!

  15. I had sex on 27 January and saw my period on 3 February,I started having some signs of pregnancy and later went 4 a test on 8th march bt d result was negative, bt i’m still having some signs. does it mean i’m pregnant?

    • You are most likely not pregnant. Some of the signs could be due to an illness. Premenstrual syndrome also causes many of the same symptoms as early pregnancy, so that could be the cause as well. We actually have an article on Med Health Daily that compares PMS to early pregnancy, so you may want to check it out. Good luck, Blaze!

  16. Hello,
    First I want to say Thank your site has been very helpful.I only regret not finding it earlier.My last day of period was on 21 feb 2017.I have a regular 28 days cycle.according to your calculator my ovulation day was 7th March. Embryo arrives tube on 13 if there was any egg.there is another blood progesterone ovulation on 14th.If I didt have sex on 7th my big o day.and had sex on 14th can that get me pregnant?does it count?no period yet.

    • If you ovulated on the 7th, then you could have only become pregnant on that day or the day after. There is still a chance that you could be pregnant though. While the 7th is when you most likely ovulated, this day could vary based on your health, stress and other lifestyle factors. Since your period was already supposed to start, you could easily find out for sure by taking a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant. Your cycle may just be irregular this month, but it is also possible that you could be pregnant. Take a test and find out for sure.

  17. I have irregular cycles. lmp was 19th Feb. I don’t expect to have periods before 30th March. trying to conceive. fertility chart said I could hv been ovulating on 14th March. I had various discharges through the last week. had sex 2 nights ago. discharge is very watery for 2 days. is it semen or am I ovulating? can I still get pregnant.

    • It is possible that you are pregnant. It is not likely that semen has not been leaving your body for the last two days. Continue to monitor the experiences that you are having for additional signs of pregnancy. Take a pregnancy test five days after your normal period date. Confirm your result with a medical professional. Best of luck, Ash!

  18. My cycles are regular 28 days I’m 37 we have been trying to conceive for the last 3 mos for the 1st time since our mmc February of last year My Lmp this cycle was 3/8/17 we had sex so far on the 14th 17th 18th and 19th. Does it sound like we have a chance this cycle?

    • It is certainly possible for you to become pregnant at this time. Reduce stress in your life if you want to increase your chances of pregnancy. Continue to monitor the experiences that you are having for additional signs of pregnancy. If you miss your period, then take a pregnancy test five days after your normal period date. Confirm your result with your medical professional. Best of luck, Mommy!

      • Ok cool,thank you sooooo much but I have two more question so if my cervix is low,hard,and mostly closed during my fertile stage is that normal? And I downloaded a app to track my fertility,but I wanted to know is the calculations correct from the time I started and ended my period?

        • Your cervix generally reaches that stage right after you ovulate, so you may just be ovulating slightly earlier than your app thinks you are. The apps can only estimate when your ovulation is; it can’t determine it exactly. It sounds like it is pretty close though since the symptoms you mentioned happen immediately after ovulation.

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