Top 10 Interesting Facts about Conception

Nov 19, 2010

1. Conception is a rare event

A healthy couple in their 20's has only 25 percent chances of conceiving each month.

Those couples, who tried to conceive through IVF, had only 8 percent of success rate. The recent research at Shady Grove Fertility Center in Maryland showed that slightly more than 7 percent of all tries resulted in a viable embryo.

The fertility specialists say that even after the egg was joined with sperm in a lab, the majority of these fertilized eggs do not become viable embryos, and those who result in an embryo have small chances of leading to the birth of a baby.

2. Eggs' life is short

While a woman is born with one to two millions eggs in her ovaries, the majority of eggs die right after a baby girl is born.

A woman will have around 400 eggs left between her first menstruation and menopause, but the number starts to decline rapidly in woman's late 30s and early 40s. While a woman in her late twenties has about 20 percent chances of getting pregnant, this number drops to 7 percent for a woman in her late 30's.

3. Sperm's got a difficult journey to make

Sperm needs to travel about 3 to 4 inches to fertilize the egg, which could take from half an hour to several days. This journey, however, is quite difficult to undertake.

Several factors can affect how fast sperm can reach the egg. First of all, not all sperm are good swimmers. Secondly, those who do swim may not travel in the right direction, because only one of the fallopian tubes will release the egg.  

Also it depends on the time of female cycle, because sperm is able to travel easier and faster during the woman's most fertile period, when the cervical mucus creates a favorable environment. While at least 40 million sperm is set free with each ejaculation, only a few hundred will get close to the egg overcoming all the obstacles in its way.

4. Ovulation may not be a perfect day for conception

The recent study at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showed that only about 30 percent of women have their fertile window between days 10 and 17 of their menstrual cycle. The study revealed that 2 percent of woman began their fertile period by the 4th day of their cycle, while 17 percent had their fertile window start on the 7th day.

Also the sperm is known to live from 3 to 5 days in female reproductive tract.

Having sex one or two days prior to ovulation will give you good chances of successful conception. Thus, there is no need to wait only for the ovulation day as it may already be too late.

5. Sometimes infertility cannot be explained

From 10 to 15 percent of couples, who cannot conceive a baby, are diagnosed with "unexplained infertility". This means that doctors cannot find any medical reason for infertility.

Usually, these are couples who have bad luck conceiving a baby and don't have any medical problems interfering with conception. Also it may be the case when there's a reason for infertility, but this cannot be found due to lack of knowledge.

6. Many pregnancies will end before you even get to know it

One 1 in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many women do not even know they were pregnant, because the miscarriage occurs before a woman misses a period.

Fortunately, most women have good chances of getting pregnant after miscarriage. Only one in 100 women will have recurrent miscarriages.

7. Modern life causes decline in fertility

Male sperm count was reduced by more than a half over the past several decades. Many specialists say that unhealthy lifestyle, and environmental factors all contribute to declining fertility.

Smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise, chemicals used in cosmetics, furniture, food packaging, pesticides, high stress level are among the numerous factors that reduce our chances for a healthy pregnancy.

8. More than one percent of babies are not conceived naturally

More than 30 years has passed since the first test tube baby was born. It is known that about four million babies were born using assisted reproductive technologies, including the IVF.

More than 58,000 IVF babies are born in U.S. every year, which is more than one percent of all births in the country.

9. Man's lifestyle affects fertility too

When it comes to getting prepared for conception, it is usually women, who take care of themselves and make changes in their lifestyle. However, man's health and habits can also affect couple's chances of conception. What man eats is connected to his health and sperm cells. In a study, men with higher saturated fat intake had 41 percent fewer sperm.

Smoking and alcohol can lead to changes in sperm shape and sperm count. Thus, it makes sense to change man's habits to increase couple's odds of conception.

10. Men's biological clock ticks too

While it is often assumed that women need to hurry up to get pregnant, this may also be true for men as male fertility seems to decline in the late thirties too.

The French study conducted in 2008 showed that couple's chances of conception drops significantly for a man in his late thirties.

Also the risk of miscarriage was 35 percent higher for couples where a man is over 40 years old.