The Sperm Wars


How often do you hear motivational words cheering us up by saying that we were the winning sperms, thus we were born winners? Guess what – the journey does not end once “we” reached the eggs; there’s still a long road after, including after we were born “winners”.

Having been a sperm, and then successfully won against the other possible alternative self-to-be to fertilize an egg, then we’d better act like one (yup, act like a sperm). What does a sperm have to go through for winning the egg?

  1. First of all, the odds are already against fertilization by providing (in most cases) only one egg and millions of sperms, so we can see that the possibility of each individual sperm to be success is very little – not to mention all the obstacles waiting ahead.
  2. Sperms, once ejaculated (inside), have to go through the female reproductive canal, with a lot of difficulties: destructive acids in the vagina, slimy mucus in the cervical canal, turns and twists along the uterus until the Fallopian tube, where most of the fertilizations take place. All of these obstacles are designed to hinder under-qualified sperms from meeting the egg; only those who have proved themselves are allowed to pass.
  3. Ovulation (the production of a fertile egg) happens only once a month in most human females, and takes place at just one of the two ovaries (again, most of the cases). An egg has the life span of about 24 hours, while a sperm has about 48-72 hours, so the ejaculated sperms have very little chance to meet the egg; it has to happen at the right place in the right time. Even if a sperm has passed through the vagina and the cervical canal and the uterus, it still has 50:50% chances to pick the right turn when arriving at the junction. Who said it’s easy to be a sperm?
  4. A number of sperms that succeed to reach the egg then have to compete among them since only one sperm gets the chance to penetrate and fertilize the egg. Once a sperm has successfully break the egg wall (using some chemical substance called enzyme), the egg will change the structure of its wall, thus preventing the other sperms to enter. What happens to the rest of them? They simple die. Life is hard, even when it hasn’t begun yet.
  5. Who said success requires no sacrifices? While entering an egg, a sperm has to lose its tail and only brings its head (which contains the nucleus, and thus, the genetic information) inside the wall of an egg. It’s a normal process, since the tail is only used to help the motility of sperms.
  6. You think it’s already hard enough for a sperm? Know this; along the process of reaching the egg, a sperm undergoes some chemical changes as a preparation to penetrate the egg, since freshly ejaculated sperms are less likely to have the ability to fertilize an egg. They improve their quality, they change for the better, because those who don’t prepare and those who don’t change, won’t be able to survive.

Briefly, we can see that in a war to win the egg, it’s not about which sperm arrives first, or which sperm is the strongest to survive, or which sperm has the best genetic quality. The war of sperms is not a race, neither is a battle. It’s a competition. It’s neither about quantity nor quality; it’s about effort and determination.

So is our “war”. To gain success, we have to be willing to make efforts. We cannot just stay idle and hope for miracles. There will be lots of obstacles but also lots of chances. We have to always be prepared, and we have to accept changes.

No success comes for free, and we have already known it (and done it) since we were only a sperm. Do not simply forget that once we became humans.

We were not born winners. We were born fighters. Act like one.

“Chance favors only the prepared mind.”
– Louis Pasteur

P. S. the good news is the egg does not passively wait. As it goes through maturation process, an egg makes its journey from the ovary to the Fallopian tube, waiting for the sperms and meets up in between. Fertilization usually happens at about one third of the Fallopian tube (from the ovary).

This means success is not a static destination. It is dynamic. It’s not always at the end of the road; you might find success along your journey, but it doesn’t mean you can simply stop at that point. Keep walking, and I am sure you will find greater success ahead.

“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.”
– Hafiz of Persia


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