Pregnancy and Menstruation

The human body is truly amazing. The menstrual cycle succeeds beautifully in nurturing an egg for fertilization and development into a fetus, and, if fertilization doesn’t happen, in cleansing your body and preparing it to start the cycle anew. And when an egg is fertilized, the cycle ends to let your body concentrate on more important things: your baby. Read on for more about your period and pregnancy.

Q. When during the menstrual cycle can (or can’t) I get pregnant? A. You’re most fertile at about the midpoint of your menstrual cycle. In a regular 28-day cycle, that would be about two weeks before your period starts. Of course, since most menstrual cycles aren’t perfectly regular, it’s hard to predict this timing in real life. The midpoint of the cycle is when an egg is released from one of your ovaries into one of your fallopian tubes, through which it travels toward your uterus. Right around this time, from just before the release of the egg to the time when it arrives in your uterus, is when you’re most likely to get pregnant. You’re least likely to get pregnant during menstruation, when the egg is being flushed from the body. However, it’s important to remember that you can get pregnant anytime, even during your period.

Q. What happens to my period during pregnancy? A. During pregnancy, the uterus is completely focused on protecting and nourishing the growing fetus. It sends out a sort of “busy signal” and can’t receive eggs as usual. Your body stops ovulating and shedding the lining of the uterus. As a result, you don’t have your period. After your baby is born, your body’s natural cycle of ovulation returns, and your period returns as well.

Q. How soon after childbirth will my period return? A. Soon after childbirth, your body will readjust, ovulation will kick right back in and your menstrual cycle will return. For some women, this happens only weeks after giving birth; for others, it takes months. Rest assured that even though pregnancy is a very complicated process, most women’s bodies recover quickly.

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