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ovulation and conception

"Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle is critical to charting fertility, predicting ovulation, and increasing your chances of conception."

Predicting your most Fertile Days!
Understanding how the menstrual cycle works - and what happens during ovulation - is key to successfully predicting fertility and ovulation.

During your menstrual cycle, there many more non-fertile days than fertile ones. The fertile days are days when there is a chance for conceiving a baby. However, within this fertile zone - the window of opportunity for fertilization - there are also just a few days of what is called "peak fertility". Identifying peak fertility days, and timing lovemaking, can very much increase your odds of conceiving each cycle.

Fertility and Your Menstrual Cycle
Peak fertility consists of the days right before ovulation - and the day of ovulation. Following ovulation, the egg can survive only 24 hours at the most. During this period of peak fertility, certain 'natural fertility signs' will manifest: the volume of cervical fluid will increase and the texture of the mucus will change from white and tacky to clear and stretchy. The reason for this change in cervical fluid is to promote a healthy environment/medium for the sperm to survive and travel in. At peak fertility, the cervix will start to rise, soften, and begin to open up. Given a fertile environment and abundant, fertile cervical mucus, sperm can live several days, expanding the duration of your most fertile time. At the moment of ovulation, the body temperature will rise to create a warmer, supportive environment for a fertilized egg to implant and flourish.

Hormones and Ovulation
Before, during and after ovulation, a number of hormonal changes are taking place in your body. Early in your cycle, during what is called the follicular phase, a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone your signals your ovaries to nurture eggs (or ova). Within the ovaries, follicles house each developing ova. The follicles that maintain the ova will secrete the hormone estrogen. As the menstrual cycle moves along, the follicle containing the developing ova also begins drifting toward the surface of the ovary. Directly before ovulation, the follicle begins producing estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen helps the uterine lining thicken and expand, and increases blood flow to the womb to support implantation. Progesterone causes the uterine lining to form secretions that support and sustain a fertilized ova, or embryo.

Ovulation is the process of an ovary expelling the ova from the follicle - allowing the ova to drift down a fallopian tube toward the uterus.

Directly prior to ovulation, another hormonal change occurs, one that women count on in predicting when ovulation will take place. This hormone change is called the LH Surge. LH (or Luteinizing Hormone) is the hormone that actually causes ovulation: it tells the ova to separate from the ovary. Ovulation tests work by detecting this surge in luteinizing hormone, telling you that ovulation is about to take place. When you see a positive result, you can time love-making so sperm will be present in the womb/fallopian tube during your time of peak fertility. That's what's it all about!

Once released from the ovary (post-ovulation), the ova can live for about 24 hours. This means that sperm must be present to fertilize the egg. Following ovulation, the ova enters the fallopian tube and continues toward the womb. Conception is defined as the uniting of the egg and the sperm. When the ova is fertilized, it becomes an embryo. Typically, this event will take place in the fallopian tube, and then the fertilized embryo will continue its trip to the uterus and implant in the lining of the uterine wall. However, for pregnancy, fertilization must be followed by by implantation. If a fertilized embryo fails to implant, pregnancy does not occur.

Implantation and HCG: What's interesting here is the relay of messages once the embryo implants. Following implantation, hCG is produced - which both tells you that you are pregnant in the case of pregnancy tests - and tells your body to keep producing progesterone to promote body warmth and forestall menstruation. Fertilization occurs when a single sperm unites with the egg. The fertilized embryo drifts to the womb and implants in the endometrium. At this point, the embryo begin to release hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin). The presence of hCG will help facilitate the continued production of progesterone - essential for a fertile, hospitable environment for the implanted egg. The hormone hCG will increase - and show up in a woman's blood and urine - making hCG a prime marker for pregnancy detection. Home pregnancy tests function by detecting hCG in a woman's urine.

After ovulation, the follicular phase is complete and the luteal phase begins, marked by a steady rise of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone strengthens the uterine lining and causes the body temperature to warm up. It also causes changes in the cervical fluid and cervix position.

If the egg is not fertilize, it will simply die and decay after reaching the womb. Without fertilization or implantation, the levels of reproductive hormones will ultimately drop during the luteal phase, causing the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to break down, shed, and for menstruation to take place at the end of her cycle..

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