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Conception: The Stripped Down Version of How to Get Pregnant

A working knowledge of the reproductive system and the conception process is helpful for any woman who is trying to conceive. In order for conception to occur, certain biological processes in both the man and woman’s body must take place at the right time.

Ovulation and Pregnancy

A woman’s menstrual cycle typically contains an average of seven fertile days when she is most likely to get pregnant. Following a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), ovulation will occur. Women with a 28-day menstrual cycle usually ovulate on day 13-15, but that will vary with longer or shorter cycles. However, since sperm can live up to several days, and an egg up to 24 hours, women can get pregnant from intercourse that occurred either before or after ovulation.

Certain ovulation signs will occur to let you know you are about to ovulate. Your cervical mucus will increase and change to a white, slippery consistency, which creates a healthy environment for sperm to travel. Also, your basal body temperature will rise and you may experience breast tenderness during ovulation.

Fertilization

Sexual intercourse during your fertile days is more likely to result in conception. After ovulation, an egg is released down the fallopian tubes. If intercourse is timed correctly, between 100 and 300 million motile sperm have the potential to fertilize the egg in the fallopian tube. When the sperm penetrates the egg, fertilization occurs, and the resulting zygote already has its complete genetic makeup.

Implantation

Several days after the egg has been fertilized, implantation will begin. This is the process where the zygote travels to the uterus and attaches itself to the uterine wall, usually seven to 10 days after ovulation.

Once attached to the uterine wall, the fertilized egg and developing placenta will begin to give off hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), a hormone that facilitates a stable environment for the egg. Three to four weeks after your last period, your hCG levels should rise high enough to test positively in a pregnancy test.

During implantation, some women may experience a small amount of bleeding or spotting, which is known as implantation bleeding. Also called implantation spotting, this normally occurs a week to a few days before a woman’s period would start. Around one-third of women experience some kind of implantation bleeding, which looks like a discharge with pinkish or brownish blood.

Have you been trying to conceive for several months? If you're experiencing trouble conceiving or suspect an infertility condition, you should consider consulting with a fertility specialist.

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