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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

Differentiate between pharmacist and apothecary
adanoor Reply
What is metatarsal
Ndotenyin Reply
bone of the foot is known as metatarsal
Patrick
yes 👆 right
Sneha
metatarsal (foot bone).....👍
Rishi
what is the meaning for cadavers
Malar
yes metatarsal are foot bone
Rakiya
the term "mental" pertain to which of the following a. chin b.navel c. ear d. nose e. skull
cris Reply
a
Lina
chin
Sneha
hi
Mohamed
skull
Monica
skull
Peter
chin
Kelly
skull
Juma
skull
Gul
skull
Laraib
skull
anwaar
skull
Nirmala
skull
Tessmol
chin
Derrick
mental chin nerve
Katarzyna
e. skull
Jennifer
skull
prince
e. skull
Natasha
It's not skull but chin
mwango
the skull
Rakiya
what are the three many components of the lymphatic system?
Milica Reply
those are...... organ, tissue and blood capillary or vessals
Juma
anatomical terms and use them appropriatly in the language of anatomy of anterior body landmarks
Teody Reply
what is human anatomy?
rascal Reply
lts stady structured human body's
Sa
what is the study of how the body functions?
Bright
What is human anatomy
Sherifat
human antomy is the body of structure
Malar
is the study of human body
Rakiya
what is abdomipelvic cavity?
david Reply
Includes all organs within the abdomen(stomach,intestines) and those from the pelvic region hence the name... abdomipelvic
Maureen
where can we find the short bones
Chidi Reply
Carpal bones are examples of short bones
Dara
what is blood supply
Chidi
on upper limb and lower limb
Juma
carpal bones
Priya
during pregnancy which would more increase size the mothers abdominal or pelvic cavity?
Nurmalyn Reply
pelvic cavity I think
Priya
What is anatomical position
Nwoye
pelvic
Maureen
@ Nwoye... when standing erect, feet parallel, arms hanging at the sides with palms facing forward
Maureen
The pelvic cavity
Rakiya
pelvic
Malar
define the main directional terms of the body
cris Reply
during physical exercise respiratory rate increace two student are discussing the mechanisms involved. student A claim they are positive feedback and student B claim negative feedback do you agree with student A or B and why
cris
what is the physiology of circulation
Chidi
please I mean the physiology of criculation
Chidi
blood flow refers to the movement of blood through the vessels from arteries to the capillaries and then to the veins
Laraib
the heart&the lungs
Rakiya
during pregnancy, which would more size the mother's abdominal or pelvic cavity? explain
cris Reply
list and define the three plane of devision of the body
cris
complete the following statements using correct directional terms for human being. 1. the navel is________to the nose 2. the heart is______to the breastbone(sternum) 3 the ankle is______to the knee 4 the ear is______to the eyes.
cris
1. superior 2. posterior 3. superior 4. lateral
Mnm
anterior fuerior
Chidi
inferior medial posterior lateral we
Susan
name the system of the body and its function
cris Reply
11 system are human body 1.integumentary system 2. skeletal system 3. muscular system 4. nervous system 5. endocrine system 6. cardiovascular system 7. lymphatic system 8. respiratory system 9. digestive system 10. urinary system 11. reproductive system male and female.
Vineeta
during pregnancy, which would more size the mother's abdominal or pelvic cavity? explain
cris
how the body maintain hormeostasis in terms of bloodglucose level
cris Reply
It releases hormones from the pancreas insulin and glucagon
TONY
why human blood pressure high
amin Reply
fear, anxiety, sickness
Inemesit
why in mothers womb the foetus head is in anus direction?
Kick
As it seems the position downside n if we did such position thn soon we got vomiting then how foetus stay in downward position long time?
Kick
What is red blood cell
HANNAH Reply
A type of blood cell that is made in the bone marrow and found in the blood. Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Checking the number of red blood cells in the blood is usually part of a complete blood cell (CBC) test. It
Noor
red blood cell are the most numerous blood cells.they comprise about 99% of all blood cells red blood cells are non nucleated it has red colour due to present to hemoglobin.
Vineeta
Thanks for the answers
HANNAH

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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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