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What is Conception? - Definition, Ovulation & Symptoms

What is Conception? - Definition, Ovulation & Symptoms
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  • 0:25 Understanding Conception
  • 1:30 Ovulation
  • 2:42 Symptoms of Conception
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Williams
Reproduction is necessary for the perpetuation of a species, including humans. This video lesson explains conception and ovulation as well as their roles in reproduction. Symptoms of conception will also be briefly discussed.

Understanding Conception

We have all experienced it, even though we have no recollection of it ever happening. We can all credit it with our existence, but we cannot truly remember what happened during the process of it. That 'it' is conception. Let's discuss the process of conception and why it is so important for human existence.

Biologically, conception is the moment when a sperm cell from a male breaches the ovum, or egg, from a female. The process is also known as fertilization and is the initial stage of development for human growth. This is a key stage of sexual reproduction, which is a form of reproduction that is necessary for genetic diversity. This is the reproduction method employed by humans.

In order for sexual reproduction to be successful, something called meiosis must take place. The process of meiosis, or sex cell division, is necessary for the production of gametes, or sex cells.

Most cells in the body have 46 chromosomes, which is a full complement of DNA. However, the goal of meiosis is to reduce this number of gametes by half, down to 23 chromosomes. During fertilization, the sperm cell and the ovum, which are the gametes, will have 23 chromosomes apiece. When they combine, the total chromosomal number of the new structure is 46; this is now called a zygote, or a fertilized egg cell.

Ovulation

The process of conception is one that requires a fair amount of probability and luck. Several factors must be in place in order for fertilization to occur. For one, the sperm cells have to survive the release from the male system. This process alone contributes heavily to the likelihood of conception.

Secondly, the female body has to be hospitable to the sperm cells in order for them to survive. This hospitable nature of the female reproductive system changes throughout the 28-day menstrual cycle. But perhaps the most important factor for conception is the process of ovulation.

Ovulation takes place in the ovaries, or female gonads, and is the process by which the ovaries release ova for fertilization. This usually takes place around day 14 of the menstrual cycle and is controlled by luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone.

An ovulated egg is viable within the system for roughly 2-3 days before it disintegrates. Therefore, conception is most likely to happen if sex is performed prior to ovulation, and timing plays a large role in successful conception.

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