Fertilization Definition: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

You might know that it takes about nine months for a baby to be born, but did you know that a pregnancy can't happen without a process called fertilization? Learn what fertilization means and how it happens inside a woman's reproductive system.

What Is Fertilization?

Did you know that there were almost four million babies born in the United States in 2014? The birth of a baby is such a common thing that it's easy to forget how much of a miracle it is. A baby's birth starts with a process called fertilization, which is the joining of an egg and a sperm. So, fertilization is the first step of a pregnancy.

Fertilization happens when a sperm joins with an egg.

Egg and sperm are reproductive cells, which are special cells that are needed for making babies. These cells are special because they only contain half of the genetic information that your other body cells contain, so you might want to think of them as half cells that must come together to make a whole cell.

The egg is the reproductive cell made inside a woman's body, and the sperm is the reproductive cell made inside a man's body. When a man and a woman share their bodies during sexual intercourse, sperm from the man passes into the woman's reproductive system, which is made up of the vagina, uterus, and ovaries.

Where Fertilization Happens

Sperm enter a woman's reproductive system through the vagina. Sperm are odd-shaped cells that look like tadpoles because they have a head and a tail. They can even swim like a tadpole. The vagina acts as a passageway that the sperm swim through as they look for the egg.

Fertilization takes place inside the female reproductive system.

The woman's ovaries make the egg. Eggs can't swim, so it's up to the sperm to find the egg. The sperm swim through the vagina and into the uterus, which is a hollow organ that's shaped like an upside-down pear. From the uterus, the sperm swim into a tube that leads to one of the two ovaries.

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