Tracking your monthly cycle is crucial for trying to get pregnant. If you know how long your cycle lasts and if it’s been consistent, you can identify when you’re most fertile. Tracking your cycle can also help fertility doctors determine what issues you may be facing, and if in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the right fertility treatment for you.
Dr. Janelle Dorsett has helped many women in the greater Lubbock, TX area understand and track their monthly cycle. With that in mind, we at the Centre for Reproductive Medicine Lubbock Office would like to go over the basics of the monthly cycle and when women are most fertile.
The Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)
The initial phase of the menstrual cycle is when you get your period. An unfertilized egg will cause various hormone levels to drop. The thickened tissue lining the inside of your uterus that was intended to support a fertilized egg is shed from the body.
During the menstrual phase, women often experience the following symptoms apart from the normal flow:
- Tender breasts
- Low back pain
- Mood swings
For some women, the menstrual phase can last up to a week.
The Follicular Phase (Days 1-13)
The follicular phase happens simultaneously as the menstrual phase occurs. Your pituitary gland sense signals to your body to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone helps follicles within your ovaries to become larger, creating viable eggs within. When follicles mature, hormone are released that prompt your uterus to create a soft lining of tissue that will be able to support a fertilized egg. This happens after the previous lining has been shed.
For some women, the follicular phase can last 16 days and sometimes longer.
The Ovulation Phase (Day 14)
Estrogen levels increase during the follicular phase. In response, your pituitary gland releases luteinizing hormone (LH), which begins the process of ovulation. Ovulation means that a mature egg is released from your ovaries and travels to the fallopian tube. The egg will remain there so it can be fertilized.
Ovulation occurs right in the middle of a woman’s monthly cycle, and will last for about 24 hours. If that timeframe passes without the egg getting fertilized, the egg will dissolve.
The Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)
Your body releases various hormones once the egg has been released, mainly estrogen and progesterone. These hormones keep the uterine lining thick and prepared to support a fertilized egg.
If an egg is successfully fertilized, you body will release human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone will keep the uterine lining thick so that the fertilized egg implants properly and can be carried to term.
If an egg is not fertilized during the cycle, the process will start all over again.
When Is a Woman Most Fertile?
Women are most fertile during ovulation, which again is right in the middle of the menstrual cycle. A man’s sperm can survive for up to five days inside of a woman’s body, which creates a window of fertility that lasts a few days.
The most ideal time to have intercourse if you want to get pregnant is two to three days prior to ovulation. By tracking your own cycle, you can pinpoint when those days are and increase your chances of pregnancy.
Learn More About Female Fertility Issues
For more information about starting a family and what we can do to help make that a reality, be sure to contact a skilled fertility specialist. The team at the Centre for Reproductive Medicine is here to help. You can reach our Lubbock office by phone at (806) 788-1212.