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Barriers to Sperm During Fertilization - Medical Animation

 

This animation may only be used in support of a single legal proceeding and for no other purpose. Read our License Agreement for details. To license this image for other purposes, click here.

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Barriers to Sperm During Fertilization - Medical Animation
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: During sexual intercourse, about 300 million sperm enter the vagina. ♪ [music] ♪ Soon afterward, millions of them will either flow out of the vagina or die in its acidic environment. However, many survive because of the protective elements provided in the fluid surrounding them. Next, the sperm must pass through the cervix, an opening into the uterus. Usually, it remains tightly closed, but here, the cervix is open for a few days while the woman ovulates. The sperm swim through the cervical mucus, which is thinned to a more watery consistency for easier passage. Once inside the cervix, the sperm continues swimming toward the uterus. Though millions will die trying to make it through the mucus, some sperm remain behind, caught in the folds of the cervix, but they may later continue the journey as a backup to the first group. Inside the uterus, muscular uterine contractions assist the sperm on their journey toward the egg. However, resident cells from the woman's immune system, mistaking the sperm for foreign invaders, destroy thousands more. ♪ [music] ♪ Next, half the sperm head for the empty fallopian tube, while the other half swim toward the tube containing the unfertilized egg. Now, only a few thousand remain. Inside the fallopian tube, tiny cilia push the egg toward the uterus. To continue, the sperm must surge against this motion to reach the egg. Some sperm get trapped in the cilia and die. During this part of the journey, chemicals in the reproductive tract cause the membranes covering the heads of the sperm to change. As a result, the sperm become hyperactive, swimming harder and faster toward their destination. At long last, the sperm reach the egg. Only a few dozen of the original 300 million sperm remain.

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