A Woman's Cycle
Learning all about your reproductive system is the first step in understanding the best time for you to try to conceive. Most women do understand the mechanics of the conception process, but learning about your menstrual cycle will teach you how to spot the signs of ovulation, or the best time for conception sex.
Each month, the female body goes through some dramatic changes. These changes lead to ovulation during which your ovaries release an egg. Whether or not the egg is fertilized during the month determines what happens next: pregnancy or menstruation. The cycle leading to ovulation is called the menstrual cycle.
The first day of menstruation is known as day one of your menstrual cycle. The length of your menstrual cycle may vary each month or come within the same number of days every month. In order to determine your own cycle length, just count the days starting with the first day of your period, and ending on the day prior to your next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but a normal period may last from 24-34 days.
On day one of your cycle, your hormone levels are at their lowest, which is a signal to your body to start manufacturing more of these reproductive hormones. If everything goes as it should, your egg follicles will start making up to 20 eggs, however only one of them will come to maturity. The mature egg will be released into one of your fallopian tubes. This takes place at around halfway through the menstrual cycle. The act of the egg follicles' release of an egg is called ovulation.
If the average cycle is 28 days, and ovulation takes place at approximately halfway through the menstrual cycle, the average ovulation would take place on the 14th day of a woman's cycle. But since not every woman has a 28 day period, it's easier to remember that ovulation tends to take place 14 days before the start of your next period. Keep in mind that there are normal variations for the timing of a woman's ovulation. One woman may ovulate on the 12th day before her next period, while another woman may ovulate 18 days prior to menstruation. All of these variations are normal.
As the levels of hormones build up in your system, they are used to help develop the egg as well as the lining of your uterus, the endometrium, which must thicken in order to serve as a strong home in which a fertilized egg might implant (pregnancy). Your cervical mucus will also change as your cycle continues. It will start out a bit dry and thick, but by the time of ovulation will have thinned out and become slippery. This type of cervical mucus serves as the perfect medium for sperm that must make their journey from the vagina to the egg.
When an egg is released, your fallopian tubes will spasm to help the egg make its way down the tube and into the uterus. If the egg fails to undergo fertilization, it will disintegrate after it reaches the uterus. In similar fashion, the thickened uterine lining will be deemed by the body to be unnecessary and will begin to shed over the course of a few days to a week or so. It is the discharge from this shedding process that is your menstrual flow.