Natural pregnancy & delivery is a miracle of science. A fertility specialist, after understanding the delicate details of pregnancy, and how it happens: always thinks that natural pregnancy is a wonder.
So let’s read the story of natural pregnancy, which includes the story of ovulation, fertilization, embryo formation, and the process of implantation.
Story of Menstrual Cycle & Ovulation
The process of ovulation & egg formation starts when the female fetus is within her mother’s womb. That is the time when the lady has the maximum number of eggs. Those eggs which have the protective shield will move to be mature eggs. And those eggs without a protective shield will die.
Later at the age of puberty when a girl starts menstruating ovulation starts. As known to everyone, it is not only a single egg that develops during the menstrual cycle. Hundreds of eggs, get into the race during the early phases of the menstrual cycle. How a fast runner reaches the goal first, likewise the egg whose growth and response is fastest for the hormone, that egg becomes dominant (usually mention as dominant follicle-DF in scan report). This dominant follicle will suppress the growth of all other eggs. At mid-cycle around day 14, the egg is released by the rupture of the follicle. And the mature egg is ready for fertilization for the next 1-2 days. This period is labelled as the ‘Fertile Period’.
Story of a Sperm Capacitation
During this fertile period, we guide couples to meet, so that the sperm (male gamete) enters the female reproductive tract. Normally millions of sperm will be present in 1 drop of semen. This sperm will mince itself in the hormones present in the female genital tract and gets activated, starts moving fast. By the chemical substances released by the egg, sperm gets attracted towards the egg. The healthy sperm with good motility enters the egg and fertilizes it. Later the outer shell of the egg becomes the solid barrier, which prevents multiple sperm from entering the same egg.
The Story of Fertilization
Every month, many eggs are set in a race to reach the goal of ovulation. Only that egg with the best quality and growth potential reaches the goal. After ovulation, the egg lives in the genital tract for 24-48 hours.
Unlike females, males produce millions of sperms every day, which after deposition the genital tract lives for 72 hours. During this time if the sperm meets the egg fertilization occurs to form an embryo. All this process will take place in the fallopian tube of a lady, which acts as a natural incubator for embryo formation. And this embryo will travel back to the uterus (womb) and gets attached to the uterine lining, deriving its nutrients from the uterine bed. This leads to further growth of the embryo into a fetus. This is the story of a natural process of fertilization and implantation.
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Story of Embryo Development
Once the fertilization is over on day 1, the cells in the embryo start dividing as even numbers and multiply as 2, 4, 8. The embryo reaches a stage of 8 cells on day 3, blastocyst on day 5. This blastocyst will go and implant in the uterus.
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Story of Implantation
The process of implantation is a rate-limiting step in IVF. We have understood many details of the embryo and endometrium in depth. But what happens when these two are interacting i.e. during implantation is a complicated and less understood process. Because there are not many studies upon this implantation. It’s a least understood subject.
In animals like mouse or rabbits, the implantation process is controlled by the embryo. If the lining of the womb is not good, the embryo goes into hibernation. And when the environment is favourable, it will implant. But in humans womb is the one that controls the implantation, once the womb is non-receptive, the embryo becomes waste & hence no pregnancy.