Stages of Conception Related to Infertility
In both men and women, there are stages of conception which, if completed appropriately, lead to fertility and conception. These stages are distinct and precise, so if there are any anomalies, missed steps or interruptions, infertility can occur.
In men, the stages of sperm production (spermatogenesis) are as follows:
Sperm is produced in the seminiferous tubules of the testes, which are lined with approximately 13 rows of baby sperm cells, in different stages of development because sperm production is a continuous process. These baby sperm cells are called "stem" cells.
In response to testosterone, these stem cells divide to create "daughter" cells which will eventually mature into spermatocytes or something like "toddler" sperm.
The "toddler sperm" will continue to mature to become spermatids or "teenage" sperm.
The "teenage sperm" continue to mature to become adult sperm or spermatozoa, though they are not very mobile at this time.
The adult sperm are carried to the epididymis - tubes where they will develop defined heads and tails, and where they will be stored until needed.
There are 6 distinct parts to that maturation of sperm, which take a total of 74 days to complete. Because sperm development takes over 2 months, illness or any detrimental factors that was present during the first cycle may affect mature sperm, regardless of a man's health at the time of examination. This is why it’s important for a man to commit to at least 3 months of regular acupuncture with implementation of changes recommended by the acupuncturist to see improvement in sperm quality.
In women, there are also specific stages in conception:
Women are born with all of the eggs that they will ever have. At birth, the ovaries contain several million immature eggs. No new eggs will be developed. These eggs are constantly undergoing a process of development and loss. Most will die without reaching maturity. This process of egg loss occurs at all times, including before birth, before puberty and while on birth control pills. These eggs are stored in the ovaries, in an immature state, and number approximately 400, 000 at time of puberty.
As the levels of FSH and LH in the blood increase with puberty, the eggs begin to mature and a collection of fluid (the follicle) begins to develop around each. The first day of menses is identified as cycle day one. Estrogen is at a low point.
As the follicle grows, blood levels of estrogen rise significantly by day seven of the cycle. The increase in estrogen begins to inhibit the secretion of FSH. The fall in FSH allows the dying away of smaller follicles. In essence, they become "starved" for FSH.
In response to a hormone called "follicle-stimulating hormone" or FSH, the ovaries begin to mature several ovarian follicles (a small cyst in the ovary with each containing one egg), stimulating estrogen production. The number of follicles in the "cohort" of developing follicles each month is unique to each individual. One follicle will soon begin to grow faster than others ?the dominant follicle.
When the level of estrogen is sufficiently high, it produces a sudden release of luteinizing hormone or LH, usually around day thirteen of the cycle. LH then triggers the final maturation of the egg and stimulates the follicle to rupture to release the mature egg. Over-the-counter pregnancy tests are testing for this LH surge. Ovulation takes place 28-36 hours after the onset of the LH surge and 10-12 hours after LH reaches its peak.
The cells in the ovarian follicle that are left behind after ovulation undergo a transformation and become the corpus luteum. In addition to estrogen, they now produce high amounts of progesterone to prepare the lining of the uterus for implantation.
The mature egg travels into the fallopian tube, where it hopes to become fertilized. Fertilization must occur within 72 hours of release or the egg will die.
If fertilized, when it reaches the uterus, it will attach to the wall of the uterus and begin to divide, creating a fetus. If it is not fertilized, it will reach the wall, the wall will recognize the hormonal signature of non-fertilization, and the lining of the uterus (endometrium) will shed, causing a "period."
As you can see, the stages of conception involve many complex steps that, if one step is altered, can result in infertility. Using a basal body temperature chart, your acupuncturist at Zen Fertility Center can evaluate you to determine if there are errors or alterations in your stages of conception which are preventing pregnancy.