June 29, 2006

Fun with the reproductive system (PG-13)

I had a great doctor's visit today. It looks like the potpourri of drugs have been doing exactly what they're supposed to. My womb is a friendly, happy place, with one healthy little egg on its way to maturity.

What does this all mean? I won't be getting the twins I was hoping for, at least not on this round. On the other hand, I won't have to contemplate selling my octuplets to a zookeeper.

But, if all continues to go well, I just might get my coveted clump of undifferentiated Sam-and-Monica cells this weekend.

Since I have a one-track mind, here are some entertaining bits of reproduction-related trivia for you:

* An ovum (egg) is the largest single cell in the human body, big enough to be seen without a microscope. The largest single cell in the animal kingdom is an ostrich egg, which weighs 1.5 kg.

* The largest sperm cells in the animal kingdom belong to fruit flies. When straightened out, they can be as long as the entire body of the male fly.

* On average, a man ejaculates between 180 million and 400 million sperm at a time.

* Human sperm were discovered in 1677. Human eggs were discovered in 1827, 150 years later. I just know there is a joke in here somewhere, but I can't think of it. Any thoughts?

* It wasn't until the 1920s that scientists discovered that women got pregnant in the middle of their cycle, paving the way for the "rhythm method" of birth control. After much deliberation, the Vatican declared that the rhythm method was the only acceptable method of birth control for Catholics, besides abstinence. Can you imagine living in those days? Oh, wait...

* The total fertility rate in the United States is, on average, 2.09 children per woman. That's almost exactly zero population growth (2.10 is the magic number).

* The country with the lowest fertility rate is Hong Kong, with 0.95 children per woman. The highest: Niger with 7.46.

* As a blue-eyed woman with a brown-eyed partner, I have a 72.7% chance of having a baby with brown eyes. If you find this at all interesting, check out this website.

* A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have. They don't start maturing until after puberty, but they are there, in one way or another, all along. So, in a strange, pre-cellular kind of way, each one of us is not only our own age, but we're also made up of genetic material that is the age our mothers were when we were born. So I'm 28, but part of me is also 65. When my baby is born, he or she will be partially 28. If this doesn't blow your mind, I imagine that certain drugs might make this idea more compelling.

I hope that you enjoyed these facts. Have a great day!

No comments: