The menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle consists is controlled by many hormones in our bodies and consists of three phases; the follicular phase, the ovulation day and the luteal phase.
The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of menstrual bleeding and the total cycle lasts an average of 28 days. The period lasts 5 days on average but can be anywhere from 3 to 8 days, with bleeding being the heaviest on the first 2 days.
Once the bleeding stops the uterine lining (endometrium) starts building up again for the possibility of a pregnancy. In this time, it becomes thicker and is filled with nutrients and blood.
The fertile window
You are actually most fertile in days 11-15 of your cycle. These are the days just before ovulation and shortly after ovulation has happened. That’s because sperm can survive for quite a while inside the fallopian tubes (up to 5 days!). It gives the sperm the time to swim into the fallopian tubes and wait there for the egg to pass. So best timing: have sex every other day from day 10 or 11 of your cycle.
Ovulation occurs around day 14 of the menstrual cycle when an egg is released from one of the ovaries (usually alternating each month). The egg starts it journey along the fallopian tubes towards the uterus. This is also where fertilization can take place if there are sperm cells waiting in the fallopian tubes.
When the egg reaches the uterus implantation may occur. If the egg is not fertilized it will not implant in the lining. If the egg is fertilized it will try to implant into the lining, but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen. If the fertilized egg manages to implant in the lining, conception is complete, and the pregnancy will begin.
If the egg is not implanted in the lining, hormonal changes will signal the uterus to start shedding its lining. The egg will break down and is shed together with the lining in the menstruation. Then the cycle begins again on day 1 of the menstruation.
Tracking your menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle has a big impact on your body – and we’re not just talking about the mood swings. There are many changes taking place throughout your cycle that you can use to track your ovulation and pinpoint your most fertile days.
Trackable changes in your body throughout your menstrual cycle:
- Cervical mucus consistency to become clear and elastic
- The cervix itself actually changes
- Basal Temperature changes