Sperm + Egg = Baby. Yes…but it’s not all that simple. The process of pregnancy is both beautiful and complicated. While most people have a general idea of how to get pregnant, they may not fully understand when the best time is, and how the process actually works.
First, let’s start with the menstrual cycle. So that pesky once-a-month thing is actually for a reason. Each time a woman has a period, that’s her body’s way of saying “no baby was made this month, lets clear out and restart”. The first day of bleeding is Day 1 of your cycle. After that, your body begins rebuilding tissue lining in the uterus for the sole purpose of being healthy enough to implant and carry a baby, if one is made. Most people have 3-5 days of bleeding before this occurs. The building process occurs for the first 14 days of a cycle. Not only is the uterus doing its job of clearing and rebuilding during this time, the ovaries are growing an egg that will be released around day 14. This egg is the woman’s DNA that she will donate as her 50% to the fetus.
At this peak of (about) Day 14, the egg is released. This is the prime time to get pregnant! The egg will release from the ovary and travel down the fallopian tube to the uterus. If it has met a sperm by this point, it burrows in to the uterus wall, and the magic begins. If it’s still single, the body realizes this, and begins breaking down all its work on the new lining to shed it (and the unfertilized egg) in the next period. Which will occur around Day 28.
But let’s go back to around Day 14 when that egg is released. You need a few more things to be going on as well. As a response to hormone changes that allow an egg to be released, your body will also change your cervical fluid to be a perfect environment for sperm to survive and swim to the egg. This is what most women can rely on to determine if and when they ovulate. You can also use your Basal Body Temperature – aka – your oral temperature in the morning when you first wake up (before you even get out of bed). During ovulation, the hormone changes, again, create a change in your body overall and create a sharp rise in temperature.
So here’s the nitty gritty. To become pregnant, you need the sperm and egg to meet on or around Day 14. But, to be clear, not every woman has the same cycle length, so that’s why it’s important to look for cervical fluid changes and temperature changes as well. Here’s another caveat: sperm can live for a few days in a uterus waiting for that egg to be released. Although it’s not an exact science, most sperm can live for a few days. This is what makes getting pregnant easier, but avoiding pregnancy a little trickier. You don’t have to necessarily have sex only on the day you ovulate for a pregnancy to occur (although, it helps). Sperm from a few days before to up to 24 hours after an egg is released can fertilize an egg.
Once fertilized, the baby makes its journey to the uterus and implants to (usually) the back wall. When this happens, the body begins making a hormone called HCG (this is what a pregnancy test detects). It will take the body a good week or so for this process to happen and a positive test to show up. And when it does…it can be a life changing moment.
There are many tracking devices on apps and devices that can help track and calculate when/if you ovulate. The more you track and are aware of your fertility and how pregnancy works, the better you can eliminate “human error” as a reason for infertility. I love educating women on how their cycles work. It’s incredible the misconceptions around the times you can become pregnant are. Any time I work with someone working on fertility or general preconception health, we talk in depth about their personal cycle and how to make sure they have their best shot at correct timing.
Schedule your naturopathic medicine consult now. Call our office at 918-995-7001.
Dr. Mattison Chapman