Unlike most mammals, human females can voluntarily engage in sexual behaviors throughout all parts of their reproductive cycles. This doesn’t mean that women don’t have a reproductive cycle, however. Human beings can only get pregnant for approximately six days throughout each menstrual cycle. Knowing those days on which you have the best chances of getting pregnant can help you conceive if you’re experiencing fertility challenges.
You can only conceive during your fertility window, which is a narrow chronological interval leading up to the time of ovulation. Numerous factors influence your ability to conceive during your fertility window.
Your Fertility Window
Every month, starting in adolescence and ending at menopause, your uterus prepares itself for pregnancy. Your anterior pituitary gland secretes luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which, in turn, trigger your ovaries to release estrogen. Estrogen stimulates your ovaries to drop a ripened follicle or egg while another hormone, progesterone, helps prepare your uterus to receive the ripened egg.
You can only conceive during the five days before ovulation and during the 24-hour period during which ovulation occurs. These six days comprise your “fertility window.” This makes evolutionary sense: Sperm can live for up to five days in your body, and your egg is only viable for a 24-hour period.
While pregnancy is theoretically possible at any point throughout your fertility window, it’s most likely to occur if you time intercourse for the 24 hours during which ovulation occurs. You have about a 10 percent chance of becoming pregnant through intercourse that takes place five days before you ovulate. If you time intercourse for the actual day of ovulation, you have an approximately 33 percent chance of conceiving.
The probability of conceiving declines rapidly after the end of the fertility window. That’s because estrogen and progesterone levels drop, and the endometrial lining within your uterus begins to break down. Approximately two weeks later, you will begin to menstruate.
Signs of Pregnancy
For most women, the earliest sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Some home pregnancy tests claim to be able to detect pregnancies as early as the first day of a missed period. Other signs of pregnancy in the early stages include:
Fatigue: You may feel especially tired throughout your first trimester. Your body has increased its production of progesterone in order to prepare your uterus for the implantation of the fetus and progesterone is known to make you sleepy. Additionally, your body is manufacturing the additional blood that will be necessary to carry nutrients to your baby, and this dilutional effect may be lowering your blood glucose levels as well as your blood pressure.
Breast tenderness: Increased hormone levels may also make your breasts swell and feel unusually sensitive to touch. This may be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Breast tenderness often starts between four and six weeks and lasts throughout pregnancy.
Headaches: Increases in blood volume and hormone levels can cause headaches among some pregnant women. This tendency may be exacerbated by a lack of adequate sleep and low glucose blood levels, so good nutrition and adequate rest are vitally important.
Increased urination: During early pregnancy, the blood flow to your kidneys increases from between 35 and 60 percent, and this leads to more frequent trips to the bathroom.
Nausea and heartburn: Progesterone has a relaxant effect. As the hormone works on your body to relax the muscles of your uterus so that your growing fetus will have a comfortable place to fit, it also relaxes the valve between your esophagus and your stomach, which can cause heartburn. The nausea you’re feeling may be related to this, but it may also be related to increases in the level of the hormones estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
Cause of Infertility
Why are some women able to get pregnant easily while others struggle to conceive? The causes of infertility are as unique as the women themselves. To a certain extent, though, incidences of infertility are linked to societal trends: Many women in western industrialized nations are waiting longer to have their first child. The largest single factor affecting fertility is the age of the woman who is trying to conceive.
Other factors influencing female fertility include:
Heredity: A 2012 study conducted by researchers at the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine found links between genetic markers and hormone levels that suggest reproductive viability is linked to heredity. Talking to other female members of your family can be helpful here; if one of your blood relatives has had difficulty conceiving, you may be at a higher risk for infertility issues, too.
Hormones: Hormones play a critical role in conception. Blood tests can confirm whether or not your body is producing adequate levels of the hormones that will allow you to conceive and carry a baby to term. If your hormone levels are not adequate, your physician may prescribe medications like clomiphene or gonadotropin, which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of female infertility.
Anatomical irregularities and diseases of the reproductive tract: Injuries and illnesses can damage the anatomy of the female reproductive tract. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is a common result of untreated sexually transmitted diseases. PID can cause scar tissue to form in the fallopian tubes, which, in turn, decreases the probability of normal pregnancy and increases the probability of a life-threatening abnormal condition called ectopic pregnancy.
Lifestyle: According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, smoking can cut down on the chances of conception by as much as 12 percent. Other lifestyle factors that influence the chances of conception include being significantly underweight, being significantly overweight, and getting inadequate amounts of sleep.
Our team at Simple Surrogacy cares about the well-being of you and your baby, and we’re here to help you throughout your pregnancy. If you’d like more information, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-866-41-SURRO or visit us online.
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