While it’s easy to assume that it’s the male sperm in all their millions that have their choice of the egg to fertilize should they make it that far, the truth is that the eggs choose their ideal match out of all the available candidates.
It’s all about fairness. According to Scott Gilbert, a developmental biologist at Swarthmore College, “the egg engages in a dialog with the sperm rather than locking it down” during fertilization. Instead of the sperm hunting down an egg and fighting its way in against the egg’s will, it’s actually a much more civil event.
The egg chooses the kind of sperm it wants. The egg has biological markers that allow it to attract ideal sperm. And, according to research from Pacific Northwest Research Institute as per Brightside, eggs are capable of favoring a particular sperm and discarding ones that don’t fit their criteria. Talk about female empowerment!
Why does this happen? Dr. Joseph H. Nadeau believes there could be a few different explanations. For one thing, folic acid metabolization is different between sperm and eggs, a factor that could change how each are attracted to the other. Not only that, but sperm may already be present in the female reproductive system before the eggs are fully ready, influencing the way the eggs mature and develop to be better suited to the sperm they eventually choose.
Give women a little more credit. While women can’t procreate on our own just yet (I believe in a parthenogenic future, haha – kidding!), once the sperm does its job, our bodies do the rest. We grow these tiny cells into a full human being able to live and breathe in the world alone, and that’s a miraculous thing. Why would anyone assume that we’re so passive in the beginning of that process? It’s about time science begins catching up!
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