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If you and your partner are planning on starting a family or thinking about getting pregnant again, this article will be extremely helpful for you. We will be covering points like when is the best time to get pregnant, what you should focus on when trying to get pregnant, best time to get pregnant, your fertile period, ovulation, pregnancy hormones, pregnancy after 35 and other such factors in this article.
The menstrual cycle
The length of the menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman, but the average cycle lasts for about 28 days. It is important to note that during each menstrual cycle, an egg develops and is released in the ovaries while a lining of the uterus builds up. If conception doesn’t take place, the lining sheds during menstruation. After this, the cycle starts again.
The menstrual cycle can be divided into four stages:
#1. The menstrual stage
This is the first stage of your cycle and the time when you get your period. This stage starts when the egg from the previous cycle isn’t fertilized. As there is no pregnancy, hormones like estrogen and progesterone see a drop. The thickened lining of the uterus is also shed as it doesn’t serve a purpose (the purpose being pregnancy).
#2. Follicular stage
This is the stage that starts on the first day of your period (there is an overlap with the menstrual stage) and ends your when your ovulation stage starts. In this stage, the ovaries produce 5 to 20 small sacs called follicles and each follicle contains an immature egg. Only the healthiest egg will mature and the rest of it absorbed into the body. This maturing follicle increases the hormone estrogen which thickens the lining of the uterus. The average follicular stage lasts for about 16 days but also varies from woman to woman.
#3. The ovulation stage
This is stage the ovary releases a mature egg. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus to be fertilised by the sperm. This is the time when your chances of getting pregnant are extremely high. If you are trying to get pregnant, you should engage in sexual intercourse multiple times a day in this period of time.
#4. The luteal stage
If you don’t get pregnant in this stage, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease and prepare your body for menstruation again. This thickened lining of the uterus will be shed during your periods. If you don’t get pregnant in this stage, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) starts.
When is the best time to get pregnant
Did you know that out of every 100 couples trying to get pregnant, about 80 of them will be successful within one year (www.nhs.uk)? If you are trying to get pregnant, the best time to get pregnant is if you have sex within a day or so of ovulation (when an egg is released from the ovary). This is usually about 14 days after the first day of your period if your cycle is around 28 days. The ovulation period is also generally referred to as the “fertile period” or the “fertile window”.
Please note that sperm can live for upto seven days inside a woman’s body. This would mean that if you have had sex in the days before ovulation, the sperm has time to travel up the fallopian tubes to wait for the egg to be released. As mentioned above, having sex quite often during the ovulation period is the best time to get pregnant. However, there are also chances for women to get pregnant even when they are not ovulating.
Things to remember about ovulation
- An egg can live upto 24 hours after leaving the ovary. For a woman to get pregnant, the egg must be fertilised by sperm within this time.
- Normally there is one egg that is released during ovulation but sometimes there can be more than one egg.
- Stress, a change in everyday routine and illness can affect ovulation.
- It is common for some women to have spotting during ovulation. However, always consult a doctor for a better understanding of what is happening.
- Implantation of a fertilised egg usually takes place after a week to 12 days after ovulation.
Menstruation can happen even if there was no ovulation and vice-versa.
Best Age to Get Pregnant
Day by day, more and more Indian couples are opening up to the idea of a delayed pregnancy. This gives them enough time to settle into their careers and also make sure they are stable financially. However, waiting to start a family and delaying it for a very late age can make it harder for a woman to get pregnant.
Fertility naturally declines with age, both for men and women. Having a baby later in life can increase the risk of pregnancy complications. Just because a woman is in her late 30s and early 40 doesn’t necessarily mean that she won’t able to have a normal pregnancy and healthy baby. That being said, women are most fertile in their 20s and have the best chance of getting pregnant in this age. Women have the highest number of good quality eggs available and chances of pregnancy risks and complications are the lowest.
Fertility begins to decline at the age of 32 and the decline speeds up at around the age of 35. A man’s fertility also declines to start at the age of 40. After the age of 40, men will have lower semen volume and sperm count. Sperm cells of an older man are also more likely to have genetic abnormalities than those of a much younger man.