Task 2 and 3

Task 2 

Flow chart summarizing the pathway of a sperm from the male testes to the uterine tube 

Flow chart summarizing the pathway of an ovum from the female ovary to implantation in the uterus

NOTE: Fertilization occurs at the Stages marked Green.

Changes that Must take Place in the Sperm and Ovum to Achieve Fertilization

After ejaculation, sperms must locate the immature egg, otherwise called the oocyte. To do this, the sperm depends on temperature changes and chemical gradients. A type of interaction that guides the sperm to the oocyte is called Sperm chemotaxis (Ruffenach, 2009). In the process of sperm chemotaxis, the oocyte secretes hormone progesterone which the sperm follows as a guide. The temperature change guidance process is called sperm thermotaxis (Ruffenach, 2009). During this process, the sperm responds to changes in temperature in the fallopian tubes. 

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Once the sperm is in the reproductive tract, undergoes a process called capacitation. Sperm capacitation is a physiological change that sperms must undergo to get the ability to penetrate and fertilize oocyte (Embrology.ch, 2010). Capacitation is a maturation process of the spermatozoa. For capacitation to take place, it must happen via the sperm’s cell membrane. Receptors are availed on the sperm’s cell membrane through the removal of a glycoprotein layer that covers the sperm. The acrosomal cap is also changed to ensure that acrosome reaction becomes possible. As the sperm’s membrane changes, it produces motion through the development of whipping movements of the sperm’s tail. This type of movement is a hyperactivity that is a consequence of capacitation. 

The oocyte is surrounded by two membranes. The corona radiata and the zona pellucida (Wessel & Wong, 2009, p. 943). The corona radiata is the outer layer of follicular cells that surround the oocyte as it develops in the ovary (Lumenlearning.com, 2018). This membrane remains with the oocyte till ovulation. The zona pellucida is thick, transparent and made of glycoprotein. The corona radiata produces chemicals and hormones that attract the sperm. Once upon contact with the sperm, the zonal pellucida is activated to undergo acrosomal reaction. In this reaction, the perm releases digestive enzymes to digest the zonal pellucida to make way to reach the oocyte.

Task 3 

Role of the Placenta

Retrieved from Mom Junction (2017)

  1. It supply’s nutrition to the baby. The placenta forms an exchange point where blood from the mother is filtered for nutrients which are then picked up by the umbilical cord and taken to the baby (Mom Junction, 2017). 
  2. The placenta acts like the kidney to the child. It filters substances that might be hazardous to the baby before they reach the baby. 
  3. During pregnancy, the baby does not use its lungs, instead, the placenta plays the role of the lungs. It allows for transmission of oxygen to the baby. 
  4. No engine has no waste, and so is the growing baby. The bio-wastes that the baby generates are brought to the placenta by the umbilical cord and taken up by the mother’s blood (Mom Junction, 2017). 
  5. The placenta stands on guard to prevent infections from reaching the baby from the mother. 
  6. The mother needs to have sufficient glucose levels in the blood. The placenta produces sufficient hormones to ensure that the mother has a sufficient glucose intake. These hormones raise appetite levels of a mother. 
  7. Female hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen are necessary to prevent the contractions of the uterus (labor). These hormones are produced by the placenta (Handwerger and Freemark, 2000, p.344). 


Embrology.ch, 2010. The path of the sperm cells to the oocyte – capacitation. [Online]
Available at: http://www.embryology.ch/anglais/dbefruchtung/weg03.html

Handwerger, S. and Freemark, M., 2000. The roles of placental growth hormone and placental lactogen in the regulation of human fetal growth and development. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, 13(4), pp.343-356.

Lumenlearning.com, 2018. Fertilization. [Online]
Available at: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-ap2/chapter/fertilization/
[Accessed 1 June 2018].

Mom Junction, 2017. 10 Important Functions Of Placenta During Pregnancy. [Online]
Available at: http://www.momjunction.com/articles/important-functions-of-placenta-during-pregnancy_00100937/#gref
[Accessed 1 June 2018].

Ruffenach, S., 2009. Recording and contextualizing the science of embryos, development, and reproduction.. [Online]
Available at: https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/sperm-capacitation

Wessel, G.M. and Wong, J.L., 2009. Cell surface changes in the egg at fertilization. Molecular reproduction and development, 76(10), pp.942-953.

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