Sperm and Capacitation

by Thad Wilson, PhD

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    Reproductive Endocrinology. Conception and Pregnancy. Here, we'll start off with the sperm. After ejaculation, you get about 2-4 mL of volume that is ejaculated into the cervix. At this particular point, the volume is made up of a few different items. About 60% of that volume is secretions from the seminal fluid, about 20% is secretions from the prostate. The rest are buffers and cells. These cells are the sperm. Sperm have a single function and that is to fertilize the egg. Here you can see a good diagram of what a sperm is like. It has a head region, which will become important as we start the fertilization process. The neck region there has a lot of mitochondria present and those will help provide the energy necessary as well as the tail or the flagella will help propel it along. The energy needed though, this is a one-way trip. The sperm are not coming back. So it is a do or die situation for the sperm. It needs to make it to that locale and it has enough energy to do so but not any extra. In fact, it's even hard for the sperm to swim across places like the uterus. So in this case, for the uterus, it is helped along by the woman. Estrogens can help the sperm in a couple of different ways. The first is it increases watery mucus secretions that will allow the sperm to swim better. The other thing it does is the myometrial tissue will help contract that helps propel the sperm upwards to the oviduct. Along that journey, the sperm has to undergo a few changes and these changes are while it's still in the reproductive tract. These weren't changes that happen prior to ejaculation. So what changes happen are called...

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    The lecture Sperm and Capacitation by Thad Wilson, PhD is from the course Reproductive Physiology.

    Author of lecture Sperm and Capacitation

     Thad Wilson, PhD

    Thad Wilson, PhD

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