If you don’t already track your menstrual cycle, you really should. Understanding your monthly cycle and how long its phases last can help if you’re trying to become pregnant, and it can also help you pinpoint potential general health issues. In fact, even though our Fort Worth, TX doctors offer state-of-the-art fertility testing to diagnose male and female infertility, we will often ask women about their cycle and any issues that they may be faced.
Dr. Kevin J. Doody and the team here at the Center for Assisted Reproduction would like to cover the different phases of the menstrual cycle. We’ll describe what happens, when these phases happen, and the peak moment of fertility for women during their cycle.
The Menstrual Phase
Timeframe of the menstrual phase: Days 1-5
The menstrual phase is when a woman gets her period. If an egg is not fertilized in the previous cycle, hormone levels in your body will decrease. This shift in hormone levels will cause the tissue that lines the uterus to be shed. For some women, the menstrual phase can last an entire week.
During the menstrual phase, the following symptoms will typically accompany your flow:
- Low back pain
- Mood swings
- Tender breasts
The Follicular Phase
Timeframe of the follicular phase: Days 1-13
The follicular phase occurs while the menstrual phase is happening. During this phase your pituitary gland tells the body to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH is the hormone that causes follicles to develop, These follicles are located within the ovaries and contain eggs.
As the follicle matures, more hormones are released to trigger the formation of a new uterine lining. This lining will support nourish a fertilized egg. The new lining will not form until the old lining has been shed.
The Ovulation Phase
Timeframe of ovulation: Day 14 (middle of the cycle)
Occurring mid-cycle, increased estrogen levels cause the release of luteinizing hormone (LH). The LH prompts the release of a mature egg from the ovaries. The egg will wait in the fallopian tube to be fertilized.
Mature eggs will remain viable for approximately 24 hours. If the egg is not fertilized during that time, it will die.
The Luteal Phase
Timeframe of the luteal phase: Days 15-28
When an egg is released, estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones are released. These hormones help keep the uterine lining healthy and able to support an egg in case it is fertilized.
If an egg is fertilized, it will travel from the fallopian tube to the uterus where it will implant along the supportive tissue lining. The subsequent release of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which will help with the nourishment of the egg after it has attached to the uterine lining.
If an egg is not fertilized, the cycle begins all over again.
When Are Women the Most Fertile?
Women will be most fertile during ovulation. To increase your chances of successful pregnancy, try to time intercourse around three days before ovulation. If you track your cycle, proper timing will be much easier for you.
Since sperm can survive for up to five days, this window for peak fertility can vary. Generally, though, it’s ideal to have sex in the days before ovulation occurs.
Contact a Fertility Specialist
For more information about treating infertility and helping you start the family you have always wanted, be sure to contact an experienced fertility doctor. The team at the Center for Assisted Reproduction is here to answer your questions and provide assistance. You can reach our Fort Worth office at (817) 924-1572, and our Bedford office at (817) 540-1157.