Human reproductive system
As Infertility is related to reproduction, it is imperative to understand how human reproductive process works. This will aid in better understanding the reasons and underlying causes of infertility.
Female Reproductive System:
Main Components Fallopian tube
- Menstrual Cycle
- Hormones: - Oestrogen, Progesterone and few others
- A women's ovary contains approx 2,00,000 to 4,00,000 egg follicles, egg Follicles have the potential to form a ripe and mature egg that's primed for fertilization.
- However not every egg follicle will form an egg. A majority of them die off without forming a egg, before a women begins her reproductive age (menstruation).
- Once the women begins her menstruation, every month a handful of the egg follicles get stimulated by certain hormones and start the ripening and maturation process.
- About two weeks into the women's menstrual cycle, another hormone stimulated the ovary to release the largest follicle (egg) into the fallopian tube. This process is termed as ovulation.
- This egg is now ready for fertilization. If fertilized it will go and implant itself in the women's uterus, where it will grow into a baby. To aid the fertilized egg (know as embryo) in its implantation the lining of the uterus begins to thicken and gets filled with blood. This process occurs simultaneously when the egg follicles began the process of ripening.
- Thus when an egg is released from the ovary the uterus is all ready for it to get implanted. The timing for this is crucial since a egg unfertilized stays alive only for 12-24 hours after being released form ovary. If it is not fertilized during this duration the egg dies out and the thickened lining of the uterus along with the egg gets slough off, this process is known as the women's menstrual cycle.
Male Reproductive System:
- Vas deferens
- Prostate Gland
- Hormones: - Testosterone and few others
- Hormones regulate the production and release of sperm. These sperms are produced in the testes of a man, which are located in his scrotal sac.
- The sperms are produced and stored in the male testes, and when a man ejaculates these sperms are pushed by muscular contraction into the vas deferens.
- From here the sperms move to the ejaculatory ducts. Where they mix with fluids from prostrate gland and seminal vesicle. This mixture is known as semen and during ejaculation is forcefully pushed out into the urethra.
- From urethra this goes down to the holding area at the bottom of the penis, where muscles propel it out of the penis.
- Once ejaculated inside the female reproductive tract, the sperm can stay alive for approx 5-6 days. During which if it comes across a mature egg it can fertilize the same and create an embryo.
- While the female generally produces only 1 egg per menstrual cycle, a male produces semen continuously and in large quantity. Hence even a minute quantity of semen contains millions of sperms and is good enough to ensure fertilization.
If the sexual penetration is timed rightly, the mature egg meets the sperms while it is in the fallopian tube. From amongst the many million sperms, one of the sperm might fertilize the egg. This fertilized egg is then known as embryo and is the starting point of your baby. This embryo now travels through the fallopian tube and implants itself in the engorged uterus lining. This is the start of a pregnancy. Once implanted here. The embryo will grow here, go through the various stages of development and finally anchor into the uterus to grow into your own wonder, a beautiful baby of your own.
Now that we know the reproductive process and its various participants, we are in a better position to understand, what can go wrong, and what can cause infertility problems amongst a couple.