An ovum, also known as an egg cell, is the female reproductive cell or gamete in humans and other animals. In mammals, the ovum is typically the largest cell in the body and it can be fertilized by a sperm cell to produce an embryo. Once an ovum is released from the ovary during ovulation, it travels down the fallopian tube where it may be met by a sperm and become fertilized.

Key Takeaways

  1. The term “ovum” refers to a female reproductive cell or egg. In humans, ova are the largest cells in the body and are one of the few cells visible without the aid of a microscope.
  2. The ovum is responsible for carrying half of the genetic information in human procreation. When combined with a male sperm cell, a new individual is formed with a mix of genetic traits from both parents.
  3. The ovaries typically release one mature ovum each menstrual cycle in a process known as ovulation. If this egg is fertilized by a sperm, pregnancy can occur, making the ovum pivotal in the process of motherhood.


The term “ovum” is crucial in understanding motherhood as it represents the initial stage of a potential life.

It is the female reproductive cell or egg, which, when fertilized by a male sperm, forms a zygote that may develop into a full-grown offspring inside a mother’s womb.

The ovum carries half of the genetic makeup of the potential child, contributing to its physical and inherent characteristics.

Therefore, the ovum plays a fundamental role in the process of reproduction and consequently, the concept of motherhood.

It signifies a critical part of the biological process that allows a woman to become a mother, hence its importance.


The term “ovum” is an integral concept in defining motherhood, serving a critical purpose in the reproduction process. The ovum, also widely known as the egg cell, is the female reproductive cell or gamete.

This entity, unique to female biology, carries half of the genetic information required to create a new individual. It is through this small but essential cell, that half of a person’s chromosomes are contributed, playing a pivotal role in the determination of the potential child’s genetic traits.

The ovum’s usage goes beyond just holding genetic information, it is fundamental in conception, the very initiation of motherhood. When a woman’s ovary releases an ovum during her menstrual cycle, which usually occurs monthly, it travels down the fallopian tube making the possibility of fertilization viable.

If a sperm cell, which carries the other half of the necessary genetic information, successfully penetrates the ovum, it results in a fertilized egg or zygote, marking the beginning of pregnancy. Therefore, the ovum is not just a cell, but a vessel of life, the initial building block of human creation, essentially setting the stage for motherhood.

Examples of Ovum

Human Reproduction: The human reproductive process begins with the release of an ovum (commonly known as an egg) from a woman’s ovary during ovulation. If the egg is fertilized by a sperm, it can lead to pregnancy, thus initiating the stage of motherhood.

Bird Life Cycle: Similar to mammals, birds also reproduce through the fertilization of an ovum. In the case of birds, the fertilized ovum is encased in a hard shell and laid by the mother bird. The process of incubating and hatching the egg represents the bird’s journey into motherhood.

Fish Spawning: Many fish species also utilize ova in reproduction, a process known as spawning. Female fish will release a large amount of ovum into the water, which are then fertilized by the male’s sperm. After this, the mother fish’s role varies drastically among different species, from guarding the fertilized eggs to leaving them altogether.


FAQs about Ovum

What is an ovum?

The ovum, also referred to as the egg, is the female reproductive cell. Fertilization of an ovum by a sperm leads to the development of a new organism.

How is an ovum formed?

Ovum is formed in the ovaries of a woman through a process known as oogenesis, which begins before a woman is born and continues until menopause.

What is the size of an ovum?

An ovum is typically around 0.1 millimeters in diameter, making it one of the largest cells in the human body.

How many ova does a woman typically have?

A woman is born with all the ova that she will ever have, typically around 1 to 2 million. However, by the time of puberty, this number drops to about 300,000-500,000.

What happens to the ovum if not fertilized?

If an ovum is not fertilized within about 24 hours after ovulation, it breaks down and is expelled from the body during the menstrual period.


Related Motherhood Terms

  • Fertilization
  • Conception
  • Embryo
  • Reproductive System
  • Pregnancy

Sources for More Information

  • Mayo Clinic: An authoritative source of health information known for its deep and reliable medical content.
  • WebMD: A trusted portal for learning more about various medical topics, including reproductive health.
  • National Health Service (NHS): The UK’s biggest health website, which covers all things health-related, including maternity.
  • World Health Organization (WHO): An international source of information on global health topics, including reproductive health.