If you’re trying to conceive, you’re going to be seeing a lot of terms like ovulation day, fertilization and implantation. But unless you took a lot of notes in school health class, it can be tricky getting your head around how it all fits together, and how long it takes. If you know what’s happening at each step of the process, it can be an empowering step forward towards getting pregnant. Let’s run through the basics of what happens at each step from ovulation to implantation.
What happens from ovulation to implantation?
Let’s cover the main three steps of the process. Ovulation is when one of the ovaries release a mature egg. Fertilization happens when the sperm cells from the father combine with it to form a fertilized egg. Implantation is when this egg lodges itself into the endometrium lining of the uterus. There is a gap of about a week between fertilization and the start of implantation.
During this time, the fertilized egg undergoes round after round of cell division as it moves towards the womb and gets ready to implant into the uterine lining. Once it arrives, the process of implantation itself takes about 5 days to complete. All in all, the entire process from ovulation to implantation takes about 2 weeks.
Ovulation to Implantation Step 1: Making the egg and sperm
As you remember, we all start off as an egg and sperm. The male testes produce new sperm cells every day. An egg, on the other hand, is only released one at a time, once per menstrual cycle and each woman has a limited supply. This is why timing around ovulation day is such an important factor in getting pregnant.
The sperm cells stick around for 3 to 4 days, but eggs are much more short-lived, surviving only around 24 hours after ovulation. This means that the overall fertile window (the time during which intercourse can result in pregnancy) is only the day of ovulation and the several days leading up to it. You’re more likely to conceive if you time intercourse with this fertile period, so it’s good to work out when your ovulation date falls in your cycle.
Step 2: Fertilization
The sperm released in ejaculation travel through the cervix and into the uterus, where they begin to make their way to the fallopian tubes where the egg lies in wait. The sperm cells make their way through the uterus at a swimming about 2 to 3 mm per minute. That’s a pretty snappy pace, all things considered, as if you were to scale them up to the of a human they’d have to travel the distance between New York and Boston to reach the egg!
Step 3: Fertilization to implantation
In fertilization, one sperm is eventually able to make it through and combine with the egg to form a zygote. The fertilized egg begins to divide into a clump of cells as it travels through the fallopian travels towards the uterus. After 4 to 6 days of cell division, it matures into a structure called a blastocyst, and it’s ready to implant into the womb.
Step 4: The blastocyst implants into the uterine lining
In generally, implantation happens around the 7th day after fertilization. The blastocyst (in other words, the fertilized egg) “hatches” from the protective membrane that surrounds it and begins to wedge itself into the endometrium lining of the uterus, forming its connection to the mother’s body. This is the implantation stage, and it takes about 5 days to complete. After implantation, cell division begins to specialize, forming what will become the embryo’s body and the placenta.
Watch the timing from ovulation to implantation
The process of getting pregnant might mysterious, but the steps of ovulation through to implantation are quite straightforward. Over the course of just under 2 weeks, tops, it goes from an unfertilized egg at ovulation through to a blastocyst fully implanted into the uterine lining and – voila! – the pregnancy is established. Once you have an idea what’s going on along each step of the way, you can visualize the changes taking place in your body when you’re trying to conceive.