Sperm swimming towards an egg in a microscope

Babymaking basics: What is conception?

We talk a lot around here about TTC - which stands for "trying to conceive" - and the term is often used by individuals or couples who are trying to get pregnant and have a baby. As in, "We're finally TTC!" or "I've been TTC for six months now." In case you haven't noticed already, we love talking about all things TTC. And you may even be TTC yourself!

But what is conception exactly? Well, as you might imagine from above, in common, everyday speech, it's meant to refer to getting pregnant - so when someone says they're "trying to conceive" they mean they're trying to get pregnant. However, from a medical perspective, terms like fertilization and implantation are actually a lot more specific in what they describe happening. So to better understand conception, let's walk through the basics of these terms, one at a time. 

What is fertilization?

During the ovulation stage of each menstrual cycle, an ovary will release one egg into a fallopian tube to, potentially, await fertilization by a sperm cell. If a sperm cell happens to have made a journey toward the egg cell around this time, successfully completes that journey and charms that egg, it will become fertilized.

From the instant that ovulation occurs, an egg only has 24 hours to be fertilized, otherwise it will disintegrate and a period will shortly follow. However, sperm can survive for up to five days after intercourse, which means that intercourse anytime in the five days prior to ovulation can lead to fertilization.

What is implantation?

Once an egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube, it will begin travelling down that fallopian tube toward the uterus. It takes about 7-10 days following fertilization for the egg (now called a “blastocyst”) to implant itself in the uterus, where it will set up shop for the next nine months. And implantation? That marks the official start of a pregnancy! 

Read more
  • Roger Harms MD. "Is implantation bleeding normal in early pregnancy?" Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 7/12/2013. Web.
  • Murcia-Lora, José María; Esparza-Encina, María Luisa. "The Fertile Window and Biomarkers: A Review and Analysis of Normal Ovulation Cycles." Persona y Bioética. Vol. 15 Issue 2, p133-148. 16p. Web. July-December 2011.
Find the Ovia app for you!
Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Google Play Store Get our app at the Google Play Store