The Mechanics Of Conception
You never thought it would be this difficult to become pregnant, but so far, you've had no luck. You can't help wondering: could it be you're doing something wrong or missing some kind of crucial information? There's only one way to be sure: read everything you can on the subject until you have a handle on the logistics of reproduction. Then you'll know for sure whether there's something you can do on your own or whether it might just be time to seek medical help. This article discusses the mechanics of ovulation—the time when you're at your most fertile.
Each month, a woman's pituitary gland signals her ovaries to release a mature egg. This is known as ovulation. On average, a woman ovulates on the 14th day of her menstrual cycle. The egg is released into the fallopian tube where it has a day or so to become fertilized by a single sperm.
Sperm are hardy creatures and can live for up to three days inside a woman's reproductive tract. A woman's best chance to conceive is around the time of ovulation, so if you want to get pregnant, start having sex a couple of days before ovulation, having sex every other day for the next several days.
Congrats! You're Pregnant
If sperm meets egg, the egg is considered fertilized and if all goes well, will move into your uterus within 4 days. The next step is implantation, in which the egg attaches itself to your endometrium (uterine lining). If this happens, congrats: you're pregnant. Your menstrual periods will stop until some time after delivery.
If the egg fails to become fertilized by sperm, it will disintegrate, as will the lining of your uterus and these will be shed in the form of your menstrual period. Mark the day you first see blood flow. This is called day one of your menstrual cycle.
By tracking the number of days until your next period arrives, you can learn the length of your cycle and figure out when ovulation is most likely to occur. If your cycle is average and regular, it will last 28 days so that ovulation will begin on the 14th day from the beginning of your period.
If you have long cycles, take away 18 from the number of days you counted in your shortest cycle—this assumes you've been keeping a cycle calendar for several months. The next time you have a period, count 18 days from its start and assume this is your date of ovulation: the best time for you to have conception sex.
Of course, not every woman has a regular cycle. That's why nature provided us with other means to predict ovulation. For example, your cervical mucus will change as ovulation nears from something white and thick to something clear and slippery. When your vaginal secretions are thin, clear, and slippery, you're ovulating.
Ovulation also causes your body temperature to rise just a bit. The rise is between 0.5-1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. After three days of this slight rise in temperature, it's safe to assume ovulation has come and gone. Get some graph paper and keep it next to your bed along with a thermometer. Check your temperature every morning. You should begin to see a pattern that suggests your typical time of ovulation in the course of one cycle.
Last but not least, you can buy over-the-counter ovulation test kits that can assess your urine to tell you if you're ovulating. But the tests are expensive and not very accurate.