Understanding Your Monthly Cycle To Improve Conception
April 30, 2018
If you are trying to conceive, having a clear understanding of your menstrual cycle and ovulation is an important first step. Throughout the course of your cycle, your body undergoes a number of changes. Some women learn to recognize changes in their bodies that can alert them to the workings of their menstrual cycles. This can be important for preparing for pregnancy. By tracking your cycle, following a pregnancy-friendly lifestyle and obtaining optimal nutrient levels, you can support positive pregnancy outcomes.
The menstrual cycle is approximately one month long and can be divided into two phases: the follicular phase and the luteal phase.1 View the chart below, which illustrates each of these phases, including when the thinning and shedding of the uterine lining occurs and the ovulation window.
The first day of menstrual bleeding is considered the first day of the cycle. At this time the endometrium, or the membrane lining the uterus, is sloughed off due to drops in estrogen and progesterone. This process usually takes two to seven days.1
Follicular (Proliferative) Phase
The first half of the menstrual cycle is marked by the follicular phase. During this phase, the ovaries work to produce follicles, which are small fluid-filled sacs that contain immature eggs. Eventually a dominant follicle emerges. In addition to the ovaries rapidly producing follicles, the lining of the uterus starts to thicken, which is why this is also referred to the proliferative phase.
As women progress through the menstrual cycle, their hormones trigger different physiological events.2 During ovulation, the dominant follicle is triggered to release a mature egg from the ovary.2 Having intercourse during ovulation may increase your chances for conception to occur.
Luteal (Secretory) Phase
During the luteal, or secretory phase, an egg travels down the fallopian tube. The dominant follicle in the ovary in which the mature egg was expelled from is now referred to the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum secretes progesterone. The body takes one of two paths depending on fertilization of the egg:
- If fertilization occurs, the corpus luteum continues secreting progesterone which aids in implantation of the fertilized egg. Meanwhile, uterine lining further thickens as it prepares for a fertilized egg to implant.
- If fertilization does not occur, the corpus luteum degenerates and progesterone levels drop, leading to menstruation. The uterus will start to shed its lining and the cycle repeats.
Prenatal Vitamins for Conceiving
Tracking ovulation each month can help you time intercourse to improve your chances for becoming pregnant. If you are trying to conceive, adopting a pregnancy-friendly lifestyle and practicing good nutrition is critical. Managing stress, getting proper sleep, staying physically active and eliminating toxins from cigarettes and alcohol will all prime your body for carrying a baby. Staying on track with a healthy diet and recommended nutritional guidelines will ensure that you give your baby the best possible start in life.
The Prenate® Vitamin Family offers two prenatal vitamins that support conception and help fill nutritional gaps that aren’t met by diet alone. Prenate Mini® and Prenate Pixie® are small prenatal vitamins suitable for preconception but robust enough to carry you through pregnancy. Talk to your doctor to see if Prenate Mini® or Prenate Pixie® is right for you.