Natural conception is when a pregnancy is achieved through sex between a man and a woman. Through intercourse, sperm is able to fertilize an egg in the woman’s fallopian tube, and that fertilized
egg eventually attaches to the wall of the uterus and begins developing into a
fetus. With natural conception, there is no intervention by medical professionals
or additional hormones or medications given to enhance fertility.
FertilitySmarts explains Natural Conception
After ejaculation, sperm cells swim up through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. An egg is released from an ovary at the far end of one of the fallopian tubes, and as it travels down towards the uterus, it is met by sperm and is fertilized. The fertilized egg immediately starts dividing into more and more cells. Several days after fertilization the embryo enters the uterus and begins to embed itself in the uterus wall. At this point, the embryo is made of more than 100 cells.
If a woman is aware of her menstrual cycle, it will enable her to track her ovulation date and plan intercourse accordingly to maximize the chance of natural conception. There are several methods to do this; these methods include the calendar method to track a woman’s menstrual periods to calculate her ovulation day, using a basal thermometer to track her body temperature, tracking changes in cervical mucus to predict ovulation, and using ovulation predictor kits or a fertility monitor. Sperm lasts about 48-72 hours inside a woman’s reproductive system, and the egg must be fertilized within 24 hours of ovulation. Therefore, it’s recommended that the sperm is already in the fallopian tube, waiting for the egg to be released.
In contrast to natural conception, assisted reproductive technology (ART) bypasses intercourse and achieves fertilization of an egg in a laboratory. It includes the use of medications to increase fertility and production of eggs and/or sperm, in vitro fertilization, and surrogacy. ART is mainly used to treat infertility or to help couples who need to have their embryos checked before implantation for a specific inheritable genetic condition. ART is also used for couples who may have a transmittable disease, such as HIV, to avoid passing the disease on to any potential embryos.