Definition - What does Ovum mean?

An ovum is the female reproductive cell, also known as an egg. Conception occurs when an ovum is fertilized with a sperm (the male reproductive cell), at which point the fertilized egg starts to develop into an embryo. The embryo implants in the uterus, where it grows into a fetus and is born an infant. An ovum is also a central component of several fertility treatments.

FertilitySmarts explains Ovum

Ova (plural form of ovum) are vulnerable to aging. As a woman reaches the end of her prime fertility years, typically the mid 30s, the egg’s viability, quality and availability begin to decline. Infertility may occur as a result. Additionally, a woman may not be able to produce an ovum due to ovarian conditions, hormonal issues, or other health complications.

As a result, there are several scenarios in which the ovum is the focus of fertility treatments.

Egg freezing, also called cryopreservation, is a standard procedure for preserving ova. This process typically involves similar medication cycles to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Ovulation induction medication is administered in order to stimulate ovulation, gathering multiple eggs for a single harvest, as opposed to the single egg produced naturally. This allows for a higher number of eggs to store, increasing the chances of a successful future treatment. Following the retrieval, the eggs are frozen until needed. At which point the eggs are thawed, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus. Eggs can remain frozen this way for up to ten years.

Ova are also utilized in egg donations. Egg donation is the process of a woman providing a single ovum or multiple ova to an infertile woman for the purpose of conception through an assisted reproductive technology (ART).

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