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The ovum is released by the mature follicle of the ovary. Very soon it is caught up in the waving fimbriated ends of the outer part of the oviducts, or Fallopian tubes. The microscopic egg (invisible to the naked eye) is carried into the expanded outer end of the oviduct, to begin its journey towards the uterus.

Its trip is assisted by the tiny hair-like structures projecting from the cells lining the tube. These are the cilia, and they set up currents that tend to sweep the egg towards the uterus. Also, waves of muscle contraction, called peristalsis take place in the walls of the tubes. These also push the egg onwards.

Along the tubal journey, one of two events will occur. Either the egg will encounter a male cell of reproduction, called a spermaxazoon (or sperm, for short); or it will not. In short, conception (and pregnancy) will take place, or it will not. Here is where its momentous decision occurs: midway along the tube—the tunnel of love.

If sexual intercourse has occurred within the previous 24 hours, the chances arc high that millions of sperms will be found actively swimming along the tube. Sperms are like tadpoles in microscopic appearance: they have an expanded, rounded head, and a long tail. Madly waggling, the tail propels them along, at an amazingly fast rate.

Although there may be millions of sperms present—at each ejaculation (climax) by the male, anywhere from 200 million to 500 million sperms may foe released into the vaginal canal - in the final count only one will pierce the outer wall and combine with the ovum.