Today was my last anatomy class.

I had my final exam this morning so for the rest of the day I’ve been walking around light as a feather. My lowest anatomy mark so far is 94%, and I think the exam went well. Anatomy was the most difficult course in my entire program, so I’m thrilled that my hard work has paid off.

The funny thing is that I feel more ignorant about the human body NOW than I did when I started this course. I think that’s a sign of true knowledge – the more we know, the more we realize that we actually know nothing. And anyone who thinks they know everything is most likely an idiot.

There’s a phrase that my anatomy instructor says every once in a while that I love: “I don’t know. Nobody does.” Clearly, she’s a genius.

Our body is a truly remarkable and complex machine. I wish I had the time and space in this one post to fully describe it. I am constantly blown away by its design and resilience. Our body fights us every day to stay healthy, despite the obstacles we put in its way.

Anatomy and physiology are two topics that are going to remain major personal interests of mine throughout life. I’m definitely going to be one of those people that read about the body for fun, and pursue a higher education around it. Something long term, like a doctorate. I’m head over heels in love with this stuff.

MY BIRTHMONTH CELEBRATIONS CONTINUE

In keeping with my love for anatomy, one of the things I did today to celebrate my birthmonth was study the reproductive system. We ran out of time in my anatomy class, so this system wasn’t covered on the exam. But because I was born in May, I decided it was appropriate for me to study it anyway.

I will start by saying that the fact that ANY of us are born at all is an absolute miracle. There are an infinite number of obstacles that a poor sperm cell has to overcome just to fertilize one egg. It’s a wonder we’re not extinct.

Here’s a list of the physical trauma that my dad’s sperm endured 28 years ago this month, to produce me.

SPERM OBSTACLE COURSE

1. The second a male ejaculates, his sperm is screwed. While the temperature inside the testes is perfect (at 34 degrees C), the outside environment for sperm is most definitely not. The majority of sperm cells will die upon contact with outside temperatures.

2. Even if a sperm does manage to make it to a vagina, the vaginal conditions are too acidic for its survival. A female vagina has a pH of about 5-6, whereas sperm is much more alkaline at 8-9. As soon as a sperm makes vaginal contact, it is usually fried in a tiny, horrifying death.

3. During intercourse the female uterus will contract, naturally pushing the sperm back out. On top of this, the fallopian tubes contain cilia. Cilia are eyelash-like projections that move to keep a woman’s flow going in one direction: OUT. Sperm, therefore, must swim hard against a female’s internal current. Not to mention, AGAINST gravity.

4. Sperm compete with each other. It’s like the sperm Olympics in there. Because of their sheer volume, they create obstacles for each other. A true fight to the death. It can get ugly.

5. Time is of the essence. Sperm has approximately 24 hours to complete its journey and achieve fertilization. The clock is ticking. It’s an extremely narrow window under extremely difficult conditions.

Those are just a few of a sperm’s troubles. Besides the normal physical obstacles, there are hundreds of emotional and chemical and sometimes genetic barriers that come into play. Plus the use of birth control. Add on top of that the challenge of actually finding someone half decent who is also willing to mate with you.

Personally, I say this is all the more reason to celebrate an entire month of birth. Because anatomically speaking… we all started off as winners.