Menstrual Cycle Phases and Pregnancy
With the excitement that surrounds having a baby, few people consider the potential issues that could make it difficult to conceive. Conception is a complex process that involves many different factors. When couples struggle with infertility, it is important to determine the source of fertility problems so that appropriate treatment can be recommended.
At Los Angeles Reproductive Center, our doctors offer fertility testing to determine what may be making conception more difficult. In some cases, infertility problems simply come down to poor timing. By understanding the menstrual cycle phases and how they relate to pregnancy, our Los Angeles, CA patients can significantly increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant.
Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
Many women think of their menstrual cycle as the active stage of bleeding that is commonly referred to as a woman’s period. The menstrual cycle actually extends beyond this time frame.
Although each woman is unique, the average menstrual cycle is 28 days. During this 28-day period, the menstrual cycle goes through four phases.
The first day of the menstrual cycle is the first day of a woman’s period. During menstruation, the uterus sheds its lining of tissues and blood vessels. These tissues are expelled as menstrual fluid.
Menstrual fluid is a combination of endometrium cells, blood, and mucus. Menstruation typically lasts between three and seven days.
The follicular phase also starts on the first day of the menstrual cycle. During the follicular phase, the pituitary gland excretes follicle stimulating hormone. This encourages the ovary to produce follicles, which house immature eggs.
The follicular stage ends at ovulation, when one of the follicles produces a mature egg.
Ovulation occurs when the ovary releases the mature egg. This typically happens around halfway through the menstrual cycle, between days 10 and 14. The released egg will be carried into the fallopian tube.
A released egg will typically live around 24 hours. If it does not meet with a sperm during this time, the egg will dissolve.
During the luteal phase, the body produces hormones that maintain a thick uterine lining on which a fertilized egg can implant. If implantation occurs, these hormones will continue to be released.
If a fertilized egg does not implant, hormones will stop secreting and the lining will gradually degenerate until it is released through menstruation, which starts the next menstrual cycle.
When Is a Woman Fertile?
A woman is fertile for a very small window of time. It is only during ovulation that the mature egg can be fertilized. However, a woman is considered fertile beyond this 24-hour time period because sperm can live in a woman’s body for up to five days.
For this reason, a woman is technically considered fertile in the five days leading up to ovulation and for 24 hours after ovulation. Though each woman’s cycle is different, most women have their best chance of becoming pregnant sometime between days eight and 18 of the menstrual cycle.
If you think that you could benefit from the comprehensive range of fertility services offered at Los Angeles Reproductive Center, we encourage you to contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about our practice. You can schedule a personal consultation with one of our fertility specialists by calling (818) 946-8051.