How Long Does It Take to Fertilize an Egg?

Making a baby is much more difficult and involved process than one might think. Even if a man has perfectly healthy sperm and enough of them, it can still be a struggle for fertilization to actually happen. Take a minute to wonder about how long it actually takes for a sperm to fertilize an egg and form into a zygote. Do you know the shortest time it can take? What about the longest amount of time? Here we will be uncovering the answers to the scientific side of procreation, or creating a baby.

How Long Does It Take to Fertilize an Egg?

Sperm count is important to increasing the odds of fertilizing an egg. Healthy men can ejaculate anywhere from 40 million to 150 million sperm which travel through the vaginal canal to the fallopian tubes, on a singular mission to fertilize an egg. The fastest swimming sperm can reach a female’s eggs in about half an hour while others could take a couple of days to get there. Sperm can live in the female reproductive organs from about 48-72 hours before they die. Out of the millions that enter only a few hundred or so will ever come close to the egg due to all of the natural barriers that exist in a woman’s body.

Once the sperm have reached the eggs, it is all about which one can penetrate into a single egg the fastest before any of the others. This is the sperm that will become a zygote, then an embryo, then a fetus and finally a living, breathing baby.

What Is the Complete Conception Process?

Follow through the journey of growth from the moment a single sperm fertilizes an egg to official conception.


What Happens


Around two weeks after the first day of a woman’s menstrual cycle, one of her ovaries will release a mature egg ready for fertilization.

Into the Fallopian Tube

The egg travels from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes and will stay there until fertilized by a sperm. If it is not fertilized, the woman’s body will flush it out during her menstrual cycle.

The Sperm's Journey

There are millions of sperm released in male ejaculate, but only a few hundred will make it to where the egg is. It can take from 30 minutes up to a few days of grueling swimming for sperm to reach an egg.

Sperm Penetrates Egg

When a sperm penetrates the egg, the surface changes to prevent any other sperm from entering. The fertilization process is about 24 hours. The baby’s gender is determined here.

Cells Start to Divide

The fertilized egg grows and divides into many cells, leaving the fallopian tubes to enter the uterus. Sometimes the egg does not leave the fallopian tubes, which causes danger for the mother.


The fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus in a process called implantation.

Pregnancy Hormones

A hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is found in the mother’s blood. This hormone will show up on pregnancy tests at your doctor’s office, but home tests won’t show results for about 3 weeks or more.

Fetal Development

In the uterus, some cells become the placenta and others become the embryo. The heartbeat starts and brain and spinal cord development begins. At 8 weeks the embryo becomes a fetus.

Here you will see the process of human fertilization in the video:

How to Boost Your Chances of Conception?


What You Should Do

Control Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight helps with easier conception. Women with a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight ranges took twice as long to get pregnant as women with healthy BMIs.

Protect Sperm

Men need to protect their sperm to keep their count high. They should avoid exposing their testicles to high heat such as hot tubs, saunas and close-fitting underwear. There’s not a proven direct link between heat and sperm count, but it is better to still take care.

Watch Beverages

Too much coffee or alcohol can decrease a woman’s fertility. Avoid these if you are trying to get pregnant and definitely avoid alcohol or caffeine when pregnant.

Quit Smoking

Smoking impairs fertility in both men and women and should be stopped while trying to conceive and during pregnancy, breast feeding, etc. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and can damage the fetus.

Find the Perfect Time

Pregnancy is most likely to occur 3 days before the day of ovulation and there is a six day window before ovulation that is best for fertilization.

Have Sex More Often

There is no such thing as “saving up.” To better your chances of conceiving, have sex as often as you can. The more sperm released the more likely an egg will be fertilized. Try to engage in intercourse every other day.

Choose Lubricants Wisely

Avoid any lubricant products that have spermicidal agents. These actually kill off sperm as they enter the vagina to help further prevent pregnancy. Avoid water based lubes as they inhibit mobility of sperm. Use something like olive oil if you need lubrication.

Avoid Harmful Exposures

Exposure to agricultural pesticide can have a negative effect on the fertility of both men and women. Solvents and toxins, like those used in printing presses and dry cleaners, can also affect fertility, primarily in women. Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals at all times, but especially if you are trying to conceive or might be pregnant.

VIDEO: Improve your chances of getting pregnant:

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