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Fertilization 101: A Quick Lesson on How it Works

August 4, 2018
Katie Visco

It’s time to rewind back to high school biology and take a refresher course on the wonders of fertilization. If the words zygote and nucleus bring back vague memories of dozing off during class, then you’re in luck because we’re going to be revisiting them today. eIVF will also be shutting down misconceptions revolving around fertilization while also providing a quick guide on how IVF works and how it mimics the fertilization process that takes place inside the female body.

  • The low-down
  • Misconceptions
  • How IVF works

The low-down

Fertilization, according to the textbook definition, is the “action or process of fertilizing an egg, female animal, or plant, involving the fusion of male and female gametes to form a zygote.” Let’s go further and explore the steps of fertilization in human females together.

  1. The process begins when the sperm swims toward the egg. Several sperms usually attach themselves to the outer shell of an egg at a time.
  2. Once attached, the lucky sperm that is able to penetrate the egg releases its contents into its center.
  3. After the egg is penetrated, an internal reaction occurs within it to prevent other sperm from entering it.
  4. The male and female nuclei then fuse together.
  5. Once fusion is complete, a zygote forms. It is now ready to develop into an embryo.

Misconceptions

In this day and age, it’s easy for misinformation and “fake news” to spread to your desktop screen. In fact, a study from New Zealand found that 74 percent of women who went to a fertility clinic held a dearth of knowledge when it came to fertility awareness. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to bearing children.

Egg Freezing

While the ideal age range to freeze your eggs is around 27-35 years old, many physicians hesitate to discuss egg freezing with their patients until they are already in their late 30s. By then, women have begun to experience a diminished reserve of healthy eggs in their ovaries.

As egg freezing is a preventative treatment rather than an infertility treatment, it is best to preserve eggs while they are still young and healthy.

Another misconception floating around claims that one’s chance of success with egg freezing is only 2-12%. This figure actually represents the chance of pregnancy per egg rather than the overall chance. Women are generally encouraged to freeze at least 12 eggs. Because the average woman’s chance of getting pregnant naturally is approximately 25%, whom who freeze their eggs an equal chance of success at pregnancy compared to those who conceive naturally.

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