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How does a pregnancy happen?

Learn about how pregnancy occurs. We explain the conception process and we talk about the different pregnancy symptoms. Understand the conception process.
How does a pregnancy happen?

How Pregnancy Occurs

Pregnancy takes place when a sperm from a male body fertilizes an egg from a female body. A sperm can meet and fertilize an egg in many different ways:

  • Sperm ejaculated from a penis into a vagina
  • Sperm getting into a vagina through fingers
  • Sperm ejaculated near a vagina
  • Pre-cum getting into or near a vagina
  • Semen inserted into a vagina through artificial insemination or an egg fertilized outside the body and then placed into the uterus

This means penetration is not necessary to get pregnant.

Female external anatomy
Female external anatomy
Female internal anatomy
Female internal anatomy
Male anatomy
Male anatomy

The process that leads to pregnancy starts in about the middle of the menstrual cycle (i.e. day 14 in a 28-day cycle), when a mature egg leaves the ovary – this is called ovulation – and travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus.

The mature egg stays alive for about 12 to 24 hours, slowly moving down the fallopian tube in case there is any sperm in the vicinity. If it doesn’t meet any sperm during this time, it dies and leaves the body during the next period.

If semen enters the vagina, the sperm swim through the cervix and uterus to enter the fallopian tubes in search of an egg. They have up to six days to find an egg before they die, and when they do meet an egg, it is called fertilization.

Hence, there can be six days between sex and fertilization.

Once fertilization takes place, the egg travels through the fallopian tube to reach the uterus. During this journey, it begins to divide into more and more cells, forming a ball as it grows. This ball of cells – called a blastocyst – reaches the uterus three to four days after fertilization.

The ball of cells floats in the uterus for another two to three days. If it attaches to the lining of the uterus, it is called implantation. Often, fertilized eggs do not implant and are flushed out of the body during the next menstrual cycle.

The implantation process takes three to four days to complete and this is when the pregnancy officially begins. What happens next is that an embryo – an early-stage human – develops from the cells inside the ball, and placenta – a temporary system which provides nutrients and other necessary supplies to the embryo – develops from the cells on the outside of the ball.

Around this time, a pregnancy hormone is released which prevents the lining of the uterus from detaching and exiting the body, as happens during the monthly menstrual cycle. This is why people do not have periods during pregnancy.