When are our most fertile days?¬† What happens just before we get our period?¬† If you want to get pregnant, or if you don’t, it’s important to know how our menstrual cycle works, what phases it has, and what’s going on in our body.
From a woman’s first period (menarche), which usually happens between 10 and 16 years of age, women experience their own hormone cycle and menstrual period monthly.¬† This varies slightly from one woman to another, but it is estimated that the standard cycle lasts 28 days, during which we ovulate, prepare our body for a possible pregnancy.¬† If the pregnancy does not happen, we menstruate.
During this 28 day cycle, we pass through three different phases: fertile days, infertile days, and menstrual bleeding.¬† To better understand the cycle, we have illustrated the article with an infographic that shows the different periods of the menstrual cycle, courtesy of Reproductive Health on About.com.
Phases of the menstrual cycle
- Menstrual phase
The ovulation cycle begins on the first day that you get your period. ¬†During the days of bleeding, which can last anywhere from 3 to 7 days, the woman is not fertile, as her body is getting rid of everything it had prepared for a potential pregnancy. ¬†The bleeding is her shedding her uterine lining.
- Pre-ovulatory phase
After finishing your period, you enter in the phase before ovulation. ¬†For some days, our body is preparing to mature and release the next egg from the ovaries. ¬†This maturation is due to an increase in estrogen that happens during this phase, which is when the endometrium is created. ¬†This is the layer that covers the inside of the uterus to make a hospitable home for the next egg and keep it alive, if it is fertilized.
If you want to become pregnant, you should start trying at the end of this phase, as your body is beginning to prepare for a possible fertilization.
- Post-ovulatory phase
A woman’s most fertile moment occurs between the 12th and 16th days of her cycle. ¬†During the post-ovulatory phase, the endometrium continues to grow in order to sustain the egg. ¬†If there is no fertilization during this period, the endometrium stops generating and, at a certain point, begins to break down. ¬†This is when the next period comes.
Painful periods, irregular menstrual cycles, and discomfort
Even though this is the prototype of a standard hormone cycle, it’s important to realize that it varies from woman to woman, and many women have irregular cycles. ¬†We shouldn’t trust that our fertile and infertile days correspond with the diagram. ¬†Sometimes, our own body releases more than one egg during the menstrual cycle, which means that we might even be fertile during our period. ¬†So remember, if you don’t want to get pregnant, always use a form of birth control.
If you have very painful or irregular menstrual cycles, make an appointment with your doctor. ¬†These days, these symptoms can be solved by birth control pills, which protect against unwanted pregnancies and regulate the hormone cycle.