Many women who want to get pregnant have doubts about when is their fertile period and when is the best time to have sex with a view to pregnancy.
Unlike men, who are fertile all the time, women can only get pregnant for a very short period each month. In truth, each ovule released by the ovary is only viable for about 24 hours. If not fertilized in this short window, degenerates and ends the fertile period of that month.
Therefore, knowing how to recognize your fertile period is essential not only to facilitate, but also to avoid pregnancy, depending on what your desire is.
In this guide, we will answer the following questions about the fertile period:
– How does the normal ovarian cycle work?
– When does the fertile period occur?
– How to increase the chances of getting pregnant?
– What are the best days of the menstrual cycle to have sex?
– How to know if you are ovulating?
– Is it possible to get pregnant while you are menstruating?
Normal Menstrual Cycle
So that you understand what the fertile period is, we will first make a brief and simple review about the female reproductive system, menstrual cycle and action of hormones on ovulation. Do not worry, we are going to try to write in a simple and didactic way so that everyone can understand.
The menstrual cycle is a natural process that occurs cyclically in all fertile women. Every cycle in which an ovulation occurs starts and ends with menstruation. Menstruation is a sign that shows that the woman ovulated, but this ovule was not fertilized.
The first menstruation of a woman’s life is called menarche. The last one is called menopause.
By convention, the menstrual cycle (ovarian cycle) begins on the first day of menstruation, lasting, on average, 28 days and ending on the first day of the next menstruation. Some women have shorter periods of up to 21 days, while others have longer periods, going up to 35 days. Adolescent women with recent menarche can have cycles of up to 45 days, once their reproductive system is still maturing. The same prolongation may occur with women close to menopause, when signs of suspension of payments of the ovaries begin to appear.
Unlike men who produce their sperm continuously throughout their lives, women are born with a counted number of eggs. They are about 450,000 and they are thrust into the ovaries, being released, in most cases, only one per cycle. While men are fertile throughout their lives, women can only get pregnant between the years that comprise menarche and menopause.
The reproductive organs of women consist of two ovaries, two tubes, a uterus and the vagina.
To facilitate understanding, we will consider as a normal cycle that with 28 days, starting and ending always on the first day of menstruation.
The menstrual cycle is governed by the hormones TSH and LH, produced in the pituitary gland, located in the brain, and by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, produced by the ovaries.
The whole hormonal process has two functions: to cause ovulation and prepare the uterus to receive the fetus, if the ovum is fertilized.
In summary, what happens is the following:
1 – During the first days of the cycle, the brain produces the hormone FSH, which causes the maturation of the ovules that, in turn, go on to produce estrogen.
2 – While the ovules are becoming mature, estrogen acts in the uterus, making its wall (endometrium) grow and make a favorable place for the implantation of the ovum, if it is fertilized.
3- 14 days before the next menstruation, when at least one of the ovules is already mature enough, the pituitary gland releases another hormone, called LH, into the bloodstream, which will cause ovulation within 36 hours.
4- When the woman ovulates, she throws her egg in the direction of the tubes and the ovary begins to produce a new hormone, progesterone, which will be responsible for keeping the uterus rich in nutrients and blood circulation, waiting for the fetus.
5- If the ovum is not fertilized, it degenerates and the concentration of these hormones begins to fall. Without hormones, the thick wall of the uterus has no way to maintain itself, and it collapses. This is menstruation. Now, a new cycle resumes.
How Do I Know if I Am in the Fertile Period?
Menstruation always occurs about 14 days after ovulation. There is no way to predict when the woman is going to ovulate, but it is possible to know retrospectively when she ovulated. Just count 14 before the first day of menstruation. This means that if the first day of the new menstruation was on day 20, ovulation occurred around day 6.
Again, it is not possible to foresee the day of the next ovulation with certainty, but women with very regular cycles, who manage to foresee with some accuracy the day that the next menstruation will come, can estimate the day of ovulation with reasonable efficiency. Therefore, let’s imagine that your menstrual cycle has 28 days and works like a clock. You foresee that the next menstruation will come down on the 24th of this month. If you are correct, this means that your ovulation will occur around day 10. Unfortunately there are few women who are lucky enough to have such a regular cycle, which allows that kind of forecast. In most cases, it is not so simple to foresee the day of ovulation.
Later in this article we will explain what are the symptoms of the fertile period and how the woman knows she is ovulating
How Many Days Does the Fertile Period Last?
The ovule, after ovulation, has a very short lifespan, about 12-24 hours. Therefore, if the woman ovulates today, the sperm has a maximum period of 24 hours to find it. As the sperm has a longer life, about 5 to 7 days, the greatest opportunities for fertilization occur when the sexual relationship occurs 24 to 48 hours before ovulation. Ideally, when the egg reaches the tubes, there is already a large number of sperm waiting.
Taking into account the average life of the ovule and sperm, in practice, the fertile period ends, on average, 5 to 6 days before ovulation until the next day.
Is It Possible to Get Pregnant Outside the Fertile Period?
There are two ways to interpret this question. If you consider fertile period only when the egg is viable, that is, within 24 hours after ovulation, yes, it is possible to get pregnant having relationships outside the fertile period. In truth, the majority of pregnancies occur when the woman has sexual intercourse 1 or 2 days before ovulating, outside, therefore, of the fertile period, according to this interpretation
Now, if you consider fertile period the period of 5 or 6 days preceding ovulation plus the next 24 hours, in this case, it is impossible to get pregnant outside the fertile period. Two factors are necessary for a woman to become pregnant: a viable ovum and a large number of viable sperm. If the sexual relationship occurs more than 24 hours after ovulation or more than 7 days before, there is no way these two factors are present at the same time.
Tips on How to Become Pregnant
Current work shows that semen quality is higher when an interval of 2 to 3 days between ejaculations occurs. Therefore, for those who want to get pregnant, intercourse is indicated yes, no, or at least, every 2 days.
When it is not easy to predict the day of ovulation, we suggest to couples who want pregnancy to have sex 3 times a week, starting soon after the end of menstruation. In this way at least 3 relationships are guaranteed within the fertile period, with good semen quality.
The position in which sex is practiced and the presence or not of orgasm in women does not influence the probability of conception. Similarly, staying with the legs for the height or any other type of position at the end of the sexual relationship has no influence whatsoever. There is nothing to indicate that the probability of fertilization diminishes if the woman returns to her activities immediately after the end of intercourse. It is not for lack of acrobatics or because of your favorite sexual position that you will stop getting pregnant.
The use of some vaginal lubricants, such as KY and Astroglide, inhibits the motility of sperm and may reduce the chances of fertilization. For couples with difficulty getting pregnant, it is suggested to avoid them.
How to Know if I Am Ovulating?
There are some ways to estimate the time of ovulation. As it was already said, in women with very regular menstrual cycle, it is possible to predict the date of the next menstruation, foreseeing, thus, that approximately 14 days before will be the day of ovulation. The problem is that most women do not have such regular cycles that allow them to use that technique so well.
Then after the peak of LH that induces ovulation, women’s body temperature rises discreetly, close to 0.5 ° C, staying that way for 10 more days. Unhappily, this method is not very useful in practice. The measurement of temperature is a good method to know retrospectively if the woman ovulated recently, but that rise usually occurs late in relation to ovulation, not serving to indicate the correct time of sexual intercourse. Since the ovum has a very short life, when the rise in temperature is identified, it is practically no longer viable.
Another way to investigate ovulation is through vaginal mucus. A few days before ovulation, the mucus produced by the uterus is altered, becoming thicker and more elastic. This mucus is called fertile mucus, because it promotes the mobility of sperm towards the uterus and the tubes.
Many women manage to detect this alteration in the characteristics of their mucus, being an indication that ovulation is close to occur.
Some women have pain at the time of ovulation. The rupture of the ovarian follicle to release the ovum may cause a discrete irritation of the peritoneum, causing pain on the side where the ovary is that ovulated. This syndrome is called mittelschmerz, which means pain in the middle (of the cycle) in German.
In practice, the simplest way to identify the fertile period is the dosage of LH, once it rises 36 hours before ovulation. There are already urine tests, which can be acquired in pharmacies, to detect the pre-ovary LH peaks. It should be noted, however, that there are false positives.
If you have difficulty getting pregnant, it is best if this process of ovulation tracking is done by a doctor in an infertility clinic. Through ultrasound, the doctor can directly visualize their ovaries and discover if there is a mature follicle, soon to break and release an egg. The doctor can also stimulate ovulation with medication, making the fertile period quite predictable.
Can I get Pregnant During Menstruation?
It is possible, but it is very rare. The rare cases usually occur in women with short ovarian cycles and long period of menstruation. In truth, no one becomes pregnant during menstruation; What may happen is the sexual relationship occurring during menstruation and the sperm survive long enough to find an egg.
For example: imagine that a woman on the 7th day of menstruation, that is, 7 days of the cycle, already with a very small loss of blood, resolves to have unprotected sex by imagining there is no danger because she is still menstruating. If this woman has very short ovarian cycles she can ovulate a few days after the onset of menstruation. As the sperm can survive in the female reproductive system for up to 5 to 7 days, there is an opportunity to find an egg and fertilize it. Sexual intercourse occurred during menstruation, but fertilization occurred a few days later
However, there are other issues that hinder pregnancy during menstruation. First, the vaginal environment full of menstrual blood is unfriendly to the sperm, decreasing its viability. Second, the uterus finished peeling, not being ready to receive a fertilized ovum, decreasing the chances of pregnancy progression.
Therefore, when asked: is it possible to get pregnant while menstruating? The answer is: yes, it is possible, but it is unlikely that a sexual relationship during menstruation results in pregnancy.
If you have any doubts about the possibility of being pregnant, read: Am I Pregnant ?!
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