■ Fertilization typically occurs within 24 hours after ovulation in the third of the fallopian tube adjacent to the ovary (ampulla):

■ The sperm penetrates the zona pellucida and fuses its plasma membranes with those of the ovum.

■ The sperm nucleus and other cellular contents enter the egg's cytoplasm.

■ Fertilization signals the ovum to complete meiosis II and to discharge an additional polar body.

The uterus is composed of smooth muscle, whose myometrial cells contain estrogen and progesterone receptors.

Cervical effacement and dilation occur in the already ripened cervix.

Cervical effacement causes expulsion of the mucous plug as the cervical canal is shortened during labor.

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