How Much Sperm is Enough for Pregnancy?
Understanding your body and what is happening is important if you are trying to conceive. Fertilization can feel like an overly complicated process and questions like how much sperm is enough for pregnancy often come up.
Why Are So Many Sperm Needed When Only One Will Fertilize the Egg?
At least 11 million moving sperm are needed in the vagina to achieve a pregnancy even though only one victorious sperm is normally allowed the privilege of fertilizing the egg that was made receptive by the hormonal machinations leading up to and including ovulation. Only a few hundred of the millions of sperm deposited actually reach the egg. It takes all of them working together as a team to cause a pregnancy.
The sperm like hounds to the hunt are thought to be guided to the egg by her alluring secretions acting like homing beacons. Upon finally reaching the egg by those that could follow directions, the sperm (still as yet a team effort) become hyper-activated, beating their tails in frenzy (like a Golden Retriever with a new toy). This passion provides the mechanical energy necessary for sperm to disperse the cumulous oophorus and bind to the zona pellucida.
How Fertilization Finally Happens
At this time a chemical is released by the attached sperm in a bombarding-like process called the acrosome reaction. Acrosomal enzymes like barbarians at the gate barrage the zona pellucida by making small holes like individual battering rams so that one victorious sperm of the hundreds lucky enough to be there out of the millions who tried can now triumphantly swim through and reach the egg surface. Once the egg recognizes that her defensive wall has been breached, she transforms her zona into an impenetrable barrier preventing additional sperm from entering and is thereby left alone to dance with the now only one intrepid intruder. This process can take up to 24 hours and if everything goes well the fertilized egg now contains all of the genetic material it needs to become a person.
At Fertility Centers of New England, many patients come to us because they are struggling with infertility and/or miscarriages. We have helped thousands of patients realize their dream of becoming a parent and are here to answer your questions from how much sperm is enough for pregnancy to understanding implantation. We are here for you!
If you have more questions, please contact us to schedule your free initial consultation.