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Conception is when the sperm meets the egg and result in pregnancy. 

How does pregnancy happen?

To become pregnant, sperm (from a male) has to meet an egg (from a female). This can happen when a male and female have sexual intercourse, when the penis is in the vagina.

Sperm is released through a man's penis when he cums (ejaculates).

When a male cums (ejaculates), sperm is released through the penis and moves up the vagina, through the cervix, into the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. If an egg has been released and is in the fallopian tube, one of these sperm may reach the membrane of the egg and get inside it. This process is called fertilisation.

DNA, or genetic material, from the egg and sperm meet and join together. All babies get half their genes from their mothers and half from their fathers. When these genes meet is when a unique cell is created.

After a few days the single cell starts to divide and multiply. The cell divides into two groups - one will become the baby and the other the placenta.

The cells divide and multiply to form a zygote. The zygote then travels towards the uterus where it will eventually implant and continue to develop. It takes the egg between three and five days to reach the uterus. The whole process is called conception.

Is there the same chance of the baby being a male or a female?

No. The fertilised egg has a 52 per cent chance of growing into a male and a 48 per cent chance of growing into a female. Some people are born intersex. This means they are born along the continuum between male and female. 

What about twins and triplets?

Most mothers only have one baby at a time but sometimes there might be more than one baby. There are two types of twins - fraternal and identical.

Fraternal twins are where two eggs (ova) have been released and they both get fertilised by two different sperm. These twins are not identical and may be two females, two males or a male and a female.

Identical twins happen when one egg (ovum) that has been fertilised splits into two. Identical twins are always the same sex.

Triplets and other multiple births can also happen through separate fertilised eggs or when an egg splits. 

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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