Medical textbooks say that an average woman is most fertile from 10 to 17 days after the first day of her menstrual cycle. But NIH researchers have shown what some women have long suspected: many women who think they can only get pregnant during this span become unexpectedly pregnant.
For some women with irregular cycles, there is hardly a day in the menstrual cycle when they are NOT potentially fertile. The window of fertility is most unpredictable for teenagers and women approaching menopause.
Textbooks also usually say that women are fertile for several days after ovulation. Dr. Allen Wilcox of NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has studied fertility extensively. “The basic problem is that ovulation is so unpredictable,” he says. His fertility research has shown that women are fertile only on the day they ovulate and the five days prior to ovulation, not at all after ovulation.
“On average it occurs around day 15,” he says, “but it can happen anywhere from day 8 to day 60 or later.”
Most women don't know when they ovulate, however, and that's where it gets tricky. While women are likely to be fertile between days 10 and 17 of their cycle, 70 percent of women have at least one of their fertile days outside that window, he explains.
Facts about pregnancy – before conception
- Conception can be irritating at times. You may feel like having it at once but it is a matter of chance. Weeks, months and years can pass without conceiving. Studying the menstrual cycle to try conception when it is most likely during a month is advisable.
- Irregular menstrual cycles make your chances of getting pregnant lesser. This is because you cannot be certain of the most suitable days for conception. Try to get it cured if you are suffering from this condition.
- You need to maintain an optimum level of health in order to sustain the development of a new life, i.e. allow for the baby’s growth during pregnancy. Make sure that your body has adequate level of minerals, iron, calcium and energy for conceiving.
Facts about pregnancy – after conception
- You can expect mood swings, morning sickness, backaches and inexplicable fears. There is nothing crazy about you, it is just pregnancy.
- Your breasts will become tender. They are starting to prepare for breastfeeding your baby. They are likely to outgrow your bra size.
- You body produces more energy at this stage for the baby’s development. This will make you sweat easier. Dress in loose clothing and drink lot of water to bring down the heat. Your metabolic rates will be much higher during these days.
- You will experience itchiness in your tummy because your skin is getting stretched. Although mostly due to skin problems, excessive itching can be due to liver problems. Be vigilant of such symptoms.
- Always visit your scheduled prenatal appointments. If you feel that you can give some of them a miss, think again. Some complication or the other might crop up anytime. Why take chances?
- If you feel panicky about labour, ask women who have had pregnancies and successful deliveries. You would be able to relate with them when the time comes for delivery.
- Book yourself for an antenatal class. Do not be laidback about it because these classes tend to fill up fast.
Other interesting facts about pregnancy revealed by NIH research:
- Pregnancy can be detected as early as nine days after conception.
- Due to natural variations in cycle length, home pregnancy tests may not be able to detect a pregnancy on the first day of a missed period.
- A third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
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