In humans, fertilization is internal and takes place in the oviduct or fallopian tube of the female reproductive tract. Fertilization takes place mostly in the ampullary region of the fallopian tube. An oocyte is alive for nearly \(24\) \(hours\) after the release from the follicle.
Therefore, fertilization must take place within \(24\) \(hours\). Male discharges semen into the female's vagina close to the cervix during copulation. From the vagina, the sperm swims up the uterus and then enter the oviducts. Initial transportation of sperms is by the uterine and fallopian tube contractions.
Later, the sperms swim using their tail (due to its motility) in the fluid medium to enter into the ovum to fuse with it. Numerous sperms surround the ovum, but only one sperm succeeds in fertilizing the ovum. As soon as a sperm enters the ovum, chemical reactions obstruct any further entry of sperm.
Fertilization events that occur during fertilization
There is a fusion of male and female gamete resulting in the formation of a "zygote".
Fertilization is the fusion of a haploid sperm and a haploid ovum to form a diploid zygote.
The zygote is the fertilized ovum. Before fertilization, the sperm needs to undergo a process called capacitation.
The changes that occur in the sperm that activates or enable it to fertilize an ovum is called capacitation.
The secretions of the female tract and the acidic environment remove the coating deposited on the sperm's surface. Thus, the acrosome becomes more permeable, and the sperm thus becomes active to penetrate the egg. The process of capacitation takes about \(5\) - \(6\) \(hours\).
The acrosome of the sperm thus can secrete the lytic enzymes. The enzymes help the sperm to break down and penetrate the layers of the cells around the ovum. Thus, the sperm comes in contact with the ovum.
After the fusion of sperm and the ovum, the oocytes display cortical reactions. The cortical granules present in the oocyte fuse with the plasma membrane to release cortical enzymes. Cortical enzymes harden the surface of the ovum. Thus, it hinders the entry of other sperms. The process ensures that fertilization occurs with only one sperm.
Formation of the zygote:
The ovum and the sperm fuse to form a zygote. Once the ovum fuses with the sperm to form a zygote, the corpus luteum formed from the Graafian follicles secretes progesterone that helps in the zygote development.
Picture showing the different phases involved in the fertilization of ovum by the sperm
A video that depicts fertilization and the acrosomal reaction: