The process of ovulation, i.e. release of eggs from the ovary occurs every month in women, generally around two weeks prior to the start of their next menstrual period. It involves selection of one of the follicles for completion of the ovulation process. All other follicles are suppressed and they degenerate, but the dominant one completes the process and releases the egg from the ovary.
Initiation of ovulation and process of conception
The process of ovulation detailed above is initiated by the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. This occurs usually in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle, i.e. 11 to 21 after the first day of the menstrual cycle. It means the first day after the periods are over.
This period is important from the point of view of conception. This is the most likely period for it, even if the intercourse happened a few days back. Sperm can live in the female body for up to 3 days. A mature egg needs to be fertilised within 12 to 24 hours after being released from ovary. So, the process of conception involves ovulation followed by fertilisation. When the sperm comes in contact with a mature egg, it penetrates and forms a protein coating around it to prevent the other sperms from entering.
Your baby’s genetic composition is completed right at the time of conception. This includes your baby’s sex. The sex of the child depends on the kind of chromosome with which the egg has been fertilised. The kind of chromosome that is provided by the mother is X type while sperm has both Y as well as X chromosome. If the Y sperm fertilises the egg, the baby would be a boy, and if the sperm has X chromosome, the baby will be a girl.
Implantation and growth of foetus
After fertilisation, the egg starts to divide rapidly and forms several cells. The zygote, i.e. the multiplying fertilised egg, keeps on dividing and gradually passes from the fallopian tube to the uterus. It first becomes a solid ball of cells called blastocyst that has a protective covering. The blastocyst comes out of its protective covering at the time of implantation to allow for the exchange of hormones. This exchange is important for attaching blastocyst to the uterus, after which the cervix gets sealed by development of a mucous plug.
The blastocyst keeps on dividing inside the little ball of cells and within 3 weeks, your baby’s first nerve cells are formed. The growing baby is termed embryo from the time of conception to the eighth week of pregnancy. Onwards, it is called foetus till birth.
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