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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the obstacles that sperm must overcome to reach an oocyte
  • Explain capacitation and its importance in fertilization
  • Summarize the events that occur as a sperm fertilizes an oocyte

Fertilization occurs when a sperm and an oocyte (egg) combine and their nuclei fuse. Because each of these reproductive cells is a haploid cell containing half of the genetic material needed to form a human being, their combination forms a diploid cell. This new single cell, called a zygote    , contains all of the genetic material needed to form a human—half from the mother and half from the father.

Transit of sperm

Fertilization is a numbers game. During ejaculation, hundreds of millions of sperm (spermatozoa) are released into the vagina. Almost immediately, millions of these sperm are overcome by the acidity of the vagina (approximately pH 3.8), and millions more may be blocked from entering the uterus by thick cervical mucus. Of those that do enter, thousands are destroyed by phagocytic uterine leukocytes. Thus, the race into the uterine tubes, which is the most typical site for sperm to encounter the oocyte, is reduced to a few thousand contenders. Their journey—thought to be facilitated by uterine contractions—usually takes from 30 minutes to 2 hours. If the sperm do not encounter an oocyte immediately, they can survive in the uterine tubes for another 3–5 days. Thus, fertilization can still occur if intercourse takes place a few days before ovulation. In comparison, an oocyte can survive independently for only approximately 24 hours following ovulation. Intercourse more than a day after ovulation will therefore usually not result in fertilization.

During the journey, fluids in the female reproductive tract prepare the sperm for fertilization through a process called capacitation    , or priming. The fluids improve the motility of the spermatozoa. They also deplete cholesterol molecules embedded in the membrane of the head of the sperm, thinning the membrane in such a way that will help facilitate the release of the lysosomal (digestive) enzymes needed for the sperm to penetrate the oocyte’s exterior once contact is made. Sperm must undergo the process of capacitation in order to have the “capacity” to fertilize an oocyte. If they reach the oocyte before capacitation is complete, they will be unable to penetrate the oocyte’s thick outer layer of cells.

Contact between sperm and oocyte

Upon ovulation, the oocyte released by the ovary is swept into—and along—the uterine tube. Fertilization must occur in the distal uterine tube because an unfertilized oocyte cannot survive the 72-hour journey to the uterus. As you will recall from your study of the oogenesis, this oocyte (specifically a secondary oocyte) is surrounded by two protective layers. The corona radiata    is an outer layer of follicular (granulosa) cells that form around a developing oocyte in the ovary and remain with it upon ovulation. The underlying zona pellucida    (pellucid = “transparent”) is a transparent, but thick, glycoprotein membrane that surrounds the cell’s plasma membrane.

Questions & Answers

what is oesophagus?
Bhavani Reply
oesophagus also known as food pip
ABDULLAH
What is the meaning of dissection
Beryl Reply
what's the meaning of polar?
Jackson Reply
Sign of anaemia or whitish color or Hgb luck
Kassahn
Are you talking of Polar anaemia or what, because the word polar doesnt have one meaning
Kingsley
what are the three types of adrenocorticoids hormones
Lubega Reply
glucocorticoids mineralocorticoid and catecholamines
Kartik
what is polar and non-polar
Jackson Reply
polar unequal share of electron while non polar is equal share
Quran
why are phosphate molecules negatively charged?
Jackson Reply
Bocz of unpaired elections
Javid
because of unpaired electrons
ABDULLAH
what are amphipathic molecules?
Jackson Reply
Amphipathic molecules are molecules with both polar and non polar regions
Mohammed
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MADUBULA Reply
Hw does the male organ develop
MADUBULA
Review your questions madam
Aliyu
what is anaphylaxis?
Rugut Reply
it is an imagency condition resulting from abnormal and immediate alagic response to a substance to which the body has become intensively sensitized
Lubega
different between drug and medicine
ado Reply
drugs have no medical application (cocaine, heroin, crystal meth). medicine have medical purpose (fentanyl, albuterol, aspirin, ect ect)
Jordan
medicine is a substance or preparation used in treating disease,drug is chemical compound medicine are drugs but all drugs are not medicines
Wafa
assalam o alaikum
Sidra
what happen to ECF and ICF regarding to OEDEMA
Zwanga Reply
what are the smooth muscles of the heart
Sintung Reply
stomach
Sidra
identify external features of kidney
saba Reply
kidney weight on males?
saba
and female ?
saba
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Samim
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Samim
blood supply to spleen ?
saba
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saba
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saba
130 on male
saba
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saba
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mbbs
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Shahab
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saba
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saba
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Shahab
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saba
Define cranial nerves with oder
Javid
O-olfactory O-optic O-occumulator T-trochlear T-trigemenal A-abducent F-facial A-auditory G-glossopharyngeal V-vagus A-acessory
Aniee
opd mean?
Shahab
out patient department
mahesh
thnxx
Shahab
Ty Aniee singh
Javid
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Areeej
Read KD Tripathi book of Pharmacology.
mayank
Hello
mayank
CT Scan means
Sintung
what's health?
Sintung
hello
Philip
hi
Sintung
CT means - computerized tomography
Vivek
connective tissue
Dee
they link some body organs
Sintung
Difference between drug and medicine
Javid
hiii muskan
saba
what is tomography?
Gideon
tomography ☝
shahid
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Gideon
how hemolytic anemia cause due to gas gangrene?
Huma Reply
what's gangrene?
Sidra
why retro abdominal region called or named "flank "?
Huma Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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