FACTS: The egg cell, or ovum, is the largest and most important cell in the world – and it’s only found in women!
Although men produce over a million sperm an hour, women are born with a lifetime trove of several million eggs. By adulthood, only about 400,000 remain, and over the course of life, most of the rest – nearly 1,000 a month – are lost. In fact, only about 450 of the millions of egg cells will ever get even a chance to become a baby.
Every day of a woman’s fertile life, several dozen eggs begin developing. Normally, only one will complete the development cycle every month – the rest perish. But the mature egg gets to leave the ovary and take a daring journey down a fallopian tube where it has the chance of encountering eligible sperm.
Like a princess in a fairytale, an egg cell has only about a single day to survive before finding a mate – though because sperm cells can survive for up to 5 days inside a woman’s body, a woman can be fertile for nearly a week.
But egg cells are monogamous: after one sperm has gotten into its heart, the egg hardens its outer wall to ward off any additional suitors.
There are many obstacles – and fierce competition – to becoming the perfect couple. But if all goes well, and the sperm and egg manage to find each other, it can lead to a miracle and a match made in heaven.
|NAME||Ovum comes from the Latin: Ovum=egg.|
|ACTUAL SIZE||About 0.15mm, which is 1.5 times the thickness of a sheet of paper.|
|HISTORY||1827- Karl Ernst von Baer discovered the mammalian ovum.|
|FASCINATING FACTS||Limited: Women are born with a finite number of eggs and they do not produce more throughout life.|
Big: The egg cell is the largest cell in the human body.