To conceive a baby, it is important that both the male and female reproduction systems are functioning properly.
Female Reproduction Organs
The female reproduction organs include:
- Ovaries - most women have two ovaries which produce female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) and store eggs. Females are born with about 2 million eggs and once reaching puberty the number of eggs decreases to 400,000.
- Fallopian tubes - the fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. Once an egg is released from your ovaries to the fallopian tubes, it can then be fertilised by sperm. If the fallopian tubes are blocked, help is needed to conceive.
- Uterus - also known as womb, is where the development of a fertilised egg occurs. There are three layers to the uterus and once an egg has been fertilised it implants into the inner layer or lining (endometrium) of the uterus.
- Vagina - also known as the birth canal, connects the internal organs to the external genitalia. During birth, the vagina which is highly flexible stretches to allow the birth of the baby.
Female Reproduction system
When a female reproduction system is functioning normally
- Ovulation occurs
- Sperm are able to travel through cervix uterus and fallopian tubes
- The open fallopian tubes allow the sperm and egg meet
- The fertilised egg moves into the uterus over a period of about five days before attaching and implanting to the lining of the uterus.
The male reproduction organs include:
- Testes - are two glandular organs that produce sperm (carriers of genetic material to fertilise the egg) and testosterone (male sex hormone).
- Epididymis – the epididymis is part of the testis and lies against the testes. It is really a single long convoluted tube which collects the sperm produced in the testes and carries the sperm to the vas deferens. Sperm mature in the epididymis.
- Vas Deferens - is the tube from the epididymis that transports mature sperm cells to the area near the prostate and accessory glands.
- Urethra - is the tube that transports urine from the bladder. When the penis is erect, urine is blocked from the urethra and only sperm with accessory gland secretion is ejaculated.
Male Reproduction System
- Testes produce sperm as well as testosterone
- The ability to have an erection during sexual intercourse
- Being able to ejaculate through the male urethra to the vagina
Understanding ovulation and identifying the time of ovulation
Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovaries. This occurs anywhere from 10-14 days before a female’s period starts. Usually two or three days before ovulation there will be an increase in clear and slippery mucus.
Understanding your fertility window
Every woman's fertility window is different. However, the most fertile days are the days leading up to ovulation. To have a greater chance of conceiving, a couple is often advised to have sexual intercourse every 2 days in the weeks leading up to ovulation.
Frequency of sexual intercourse
Regular ejaculation ensures better quality of sperm as it reduces oxidative damage to the sperm. Generally sexual intercourse every two to three days is recommended at all times of the menstrual cycle. Prolonged abstinence (seven days or longer) increases oxidative damage to sperm. Very frequent ejaculation (daily or several times a day) can also be associated with reduced sperm quality. Having intercourse or ejaculation every second day on a regular basis is therefore often considered optimal for conception.