How the Female Reproductive System Works
Discovering how the female reproductive system functions is essential when trying to improve your odds of getting pregnant. Your reproductive system affects your chances of getting pregnant because the time when you have intercourse with your partner can either increase or decrease your chances of getting pregnant. Read about how the female reproductive system works and its role in getting pregnant here.
Each month, your body undergoes normal, natural changes that help the ovaries release an egg, which may or may not become fertilized during the course of the month. This process is called your menstrual cycle.
The first day of menstruation is day one of your cycle. An average cycle lasts 28 days but it is normal for a cycle to last anywhere from 24 to 34 days and many womenï¿½s cycles even vary from month to month.
A typical menstrual cycle begins with the onset of your period; during this time, low hormone levels produce a signal to your body to increase hormone production levels. While your egg follicles will start to produce up to 20 eggs, only one egg will mature. This egg will then be released into your fallopian tube roughly halfway through your menstrual cycle.
Ovulation is the term used to describe the process of the egg being released by the egg follicles; during this time rising levels of estrogen trigger a surge of luteinising hormone (LH), causing the egg to be released through the ovary wall.
Ovulation generally takes place 14 days before the onset of menstruation, although it is normal for ovulation to occur anywhere from 12 to 18 days prior to menstruation. This is the period of time when a woman is most fertile and when she is most likely to get pregnant.
Because of the increase in hormone production, not only is the egg developed, but also the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) thickens in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg. Another change that occurs around ovulation is that the cervical mucus turns from dry and thick to thin and slippery. This transformation facilitates the spermï¿½s movement towards the fallopian tubes and the released egg.
When the egg is released, spasms occur in the sides of the fallopian tubes in order to assist the egg as it travels down the tube and towards the uterus. If the egg is not fertilized, it will disintegrate upon reaching the uterus. Progesterone is also produced in order to help build up a healthy endometrium for implantation.
Also, if the egg is not fertilized, the thickened endometrium lining is no longer needed, and so it sheds, resulting in menstruation. During your period, your body creates follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which prompts the follicles in both ovaries to begin maturing eggs; at the same time, the follicles produce estrogen.
What Happens When Conception Occurs
If the egg is fertilized, it continues to travel downwards through the fallopian tube. After a week or so it enters the uterus and implants itself onto the endometrium.
Once the egg is implanted, it produces human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), which helps ensure the endometrium doesnï¿½t disintegrate; this is the hormone detected in a pregnancy test.
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