All about pregnancy signs and symptoms of pregnancy pregnancy tests home pregnancy test pregnancy stages first trimester of pregnancy second trimester of pregnancy third trimester of pregnancy calculating pregnancy due date prenatal diagnosis healthy pregnancy diet nutrition during pregnancy exercise during pregnancy spotting during pregnancy bleeding during pregnancy smoking during pregnancy sex during pregnancy prenatal care teenage pregnancy twins and multiple births childbirth obstetrics pregnancy ultrasound Chinese lunar pregnancy calendar (Chinese gender chart) fertility charting ovulation: calendar, prediction, test getting pregnant gender selection prenatal tests genetic screening genetic counseling birth control (contraception, pregnancy prevention) male condoms female condoms diaphragm cervical cap birth control pills Norplant Depo Provera spermicides emergency contraceptive pill (morning-after pill) natural family planning intrauterine device (IUD) birth control patch sterilization (vasectomy) fertility awareness method (FAM) abstinence pre-eclampsia, eclampsia HELLP syndrome intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) premature birth stillbirth Caesarean section preterm labor Rh incompatibility (erythroblastosis fetalis) ectopic pregnancy pregnancy diabetes (gestational diabetes) group B strep morning sickness (NVP) hyperemesis gravidarum miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) postpartum hemorrhage pregnancy-induced hypertension Pica
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The menstrual cycle is the periodic change in a woman's body that occurs every month between puberty and menopause and is related to reproduction. The average human menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but it can range from 21 to 35 days. It is controlled by hormones. By convention, the onset of menstrual bleeding (menstruation or menses) marks the beginning of the cycle. Menstruation lasts for several days and is caused by the loss of the lining of the uterus. The uterus was ready to accept a fertilized egg (ovum), but none arrived, and so the lining (called endometrium) is expelled. Therefore, if menstrual bleeding occurs, a woman knows that she is not pregnant.
Then a new egg matures in the ovaries, and about at the middle of the cycle (14 days before beginning of the next menstrual bleeding), ovulation occurs, meaning that the egg is released by the ovary and enters the fallopian tube. In some women, ovulation is accompanied by a characteristic pain called Mittelschmerz which lasts for several hours. A characteristic clear and stringy mucus develops at the cervix, ready to accept sperm. The egg (with a diameter of about 0.5 mm) travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus, pushed along by movements of the lining of the tube. This trip, which is about 7-14 cm long, takes about one day, and the egg is available to be fertilized during this period. In the meantime, the endometrium has started to grow again. If fertilization occurs, the egg implants in the wall of the uterus and major changes take place, with the menstrual cycle being suspended for the length of the pregnancy. If no fertilization occurs, the endometrium is lost with bleeding and the cycle starts again.
Understanding your menstrual cycle is essential for your good health. It is especially important if you want to chart your fertility pattern as a method of contraception. Fertility charting allows you to predict ovulation, pinpoint your most fertile time in your cycle, and increase your chances of becoming pregnant. Looking at several physiological variables, a woman can learn to identify the days when she will most likely ovulate - the best time to conceive a baby.
Three fertility charting methods you can use to predict when you ovulate in order to plan or prevent pregnancy are: 1. The Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Method; 2. The Cervical Mucus Method; 3. The Calendar Method.
The BBT method requires you to monitor your temperature every morning. Body temperature changes are due to the increase of progesterone in your system. At the onset of ovulation, your body temperature will rise between 0.4°F and 0.8°F. The physiological purpose of the temperature increase is to create a warmer, more fertile environment for the fertilized egg. This temperature increase will last from ovulation until your next period. The mechanism underlying the biphasic nature of an ovulatory BBT is the production of progesterone after ovulation. Progesterone is a thermogenic hormone which usually causes a rise in the basal temperature of 0.4 to 1.0 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, after ovulation, and the production of progesterone by the corpus luteum, the basal temperature rises. When LH (the ovulatory trigger) measurements are correlated with BBT charts, it appears that the temperature rise usually occurs two days after the LH surge. The temperature elevation is associated with serum progesterone levels greater than 4 ng/ml. Ovulation usually occurs one day before the temperature rises. The temperature usually stays raised for 10 days. BBT evaluations only confirm, but do not predict, ovulation, and can be affected by many factors resulting in inaccuracies. Despite these limitations, it remains a useful tool in the evaluation and treatment of infertility and is often recommended.
The cervical mucus method is based on another change that occurs during the menstrual cycle. The hormones that control menstrual cycle phases also act on the glands of the cervix that produce mucus secretions. The mucus secreted by the cervix collects on the cervix and in the vagina. It changes in quality and quantity just before and during ovulation. With proper personal instruction, many women can learn to recognize the changing characteristics. Instruction in the cervical mucus method is usually given on a one-to-one basis. The cervical mucus method is also known as the ovulation method or the Billings method. As with the other methods, records need to be kept. It's suggested that a woman chart her observation daily on a calendar. Mark the days of your menstrual period, the dry days, tacky days, and slippery days. It's best to avoid intercourse for at least one whole cycle when you start to use the mucus method for birth control. Get someone with experience to help you become familiar with your own pattern until you are able to interpret the changes yourself.
The calendar method predicts ovulation by looking at a woman's menstrual history. Ideally, the calendar method should be used in conjunction with other predictive strategies, like observing cervical fluids, changes in the position of the cervix, and BBT charting. Also, the calendar method can be used to determine when a woman should start using ovulation tests - products that detect her LH-Surge. The calendar method attempts to predict ovulation using a woman's menstrual history. A written record is kept - an ordinary calendar can be used to note each cycle, counting from the first day of one menstrual period up to, but not including, the first day of the next. The day bleeding starts is Day 1, and you mark this by circling that date on the calendar. Continue to circle Day 1 for at least eight months (12 is better). Then you count the days in each cycle.
It is best to combine the temperature method, the cervical mucus method, and the calendar method. The combination of these methods is called the symptothermal method. Using all three methods - temperature, cervical mucus, and calendar - is called the symptothermal method. The symptothermal method allows a woman to be more accurate in predicting her safe days than if she uses any one of the methods alone. When using these methods together, the signs of one can serve to confirm those of the other. For example, a record of the mucus pattern can be useful because temperature rises resulting from illness or emotional stress may be confusing. Combining methods also permits sexual relations during the early dry days, and shortens the period of abstinence necessary for complete protection when using the temperature method alone.
More information on pregnancy
Pregnancy - Pregnancy is period of time between fertilization of the ovum (conception) and birth, during which mammals carry their developing young in the uterus (see embryo).
Pregnancy signs and symptoms - During pregnancy a woman's body undergoes a number of changes to allow the fetus to develop inside the womb. The symptoms of pregnancy vary from woman to woman.
Pregnancy tests - A pregnancy test is a test of blood or urine used to determine whether a woman is pregnant. There are two types of pregnancy tests - blood and urine tests.
Home pregnancy test - A home pregnancy test measures the presence of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your urine. All home pregnancy test kits test your pregnancy on the basis of your urine sample.
Pregnancy stages - There are three stages of pregnancy called trimesters. Each trimester is three months. The word "trimester" comes from a Latin word meaning "three months long."
First trimester of pregnancy - First trimester pregnancy is the early stage of pregnancy from conception to 12 weeks gestation, or about 14 weeks from the first day of the last normal menstrual period (LNMP).
Second trimester of pregnancy - In the second trimester the embryo, now known as a fetus, is recognisable as human in form, but is not developed enough to be viable if born. The second trimester is often called the planning trimester.
Third trimester of pregnancy - The third trimester of pregnancy lasts from 28 weeks after your last menstrual period (LMP) until the birth, which usually occurs between the 38th and 42nd weeks of pregnancy.
Calculating pregnancy due date - The due date is usually computed from the first day of the last regular period. In the calendar, this can be figured by taking that date, subtracting three months, and adding seven days.
Prenatal diagnosis - Prenatal diagnosis is the process of detecting and diagnosing fetal abnormalities before birth. A targeted prenatal diagnosis is done when there is a concrete suspicion that there might be a particular disorder.
Healthy pregnancy diet - A balanced diet is key to having a healthy pregnancy. Pregnancy places substantial demands on the availability of iron in the body.
Nutrition during pregnancy - Nutrition is an essential component of prenatal care. During pregnancy, your body needs more nutrients in order to provide a baby with what it needs. Eat enough food to gain weight at the rate recommended by your health care provider.
Exercise during pregnancy - Exercise plays an important role in promoting health and well-being for pregnant women. Excessive levels of physical activity in pregnancy can reduce fetal growth and increase the risk of preterm delivery.
Spotting during pregnancy - Spotting is light bleeding similar to your period and it can happen at any time during pregnancy, but it is most common during the first trimester.
Bleeding during pregnancy - Bleeding from the vagina in early pregnancy is very common. First trimester bleeding is any vaginal bleeding during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
Smoking during pregnancy - Cigarette smoking during pregnancy can cause serious health problems to an unborn child. Many complications of pregnancy are more likely to occur in smokers.
Sex during pregnancy - Sex and sexual intercourse are not harmful during pregnancy. For most women and their partners, sex during pregnancy is fine as long as both partners consent and are comfortable.
Prenatal care - Prenatal care is the health care that a woman receives before her baby is born. Prenatal care is provided for women during the period between conception and birth of the baby.
Teenage pregnancy - Teenage pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs in an adolescent. Babies born to teenagers are at risk for neglect and abuse.
Twins and multiple birth - Multiple pregnancies are on the rise in recent years with more and more twins and other types of multiples being born. A multiple birth is when more than one human baby results from a single pregnancy.
Childbirth - Childbirth (also called labour, birth, or parturition) is the culmination of pregnancy, the emergence of a child from its mother's uterus.
Obstetrics - Obstetrics is the surgical specialty dealing with the care of a woman and her offspring during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (the period shortly after birth).
Pregnancy ultrasound - Pregnancy ultrasound is a method of imaging the fetus and the female pelvic organs during pregnancy.
Chinese lunar pregnancy calendar - The Chinese pregnancy calendar was allegedly discovered about 700 years ago. The accuracy of the chart has been proved by thousands of people and is believed to be 99 percent accurate.
Fertility charting - Fertility charting allows you to predict ovulation, pinpoint your most fertile time in your cycle, and increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
Ovulation: calendar, prediction, test - Ovulation is the process of discharging a mature ovum (egg) from an ovary after a Graafian follicle - representing the final stage of follicular development before ovulation - has been formed.
Getting pregnant - The best or most fertile time to get pregnant is the period of ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most women ovulate (release an egg from the ovary) about two weeks before their period.
Gender selection - There are three main techniques of sex selection: pre-natal testing and termination of pregnancy, pre-implantation genetic testing of embryos, and sperm sorting.
Prenatal tests - Prenatal tests are one of the many ways your practitioner can check on the well-being of your growing baby and find out whether you're at risk for complications.
Genetic screening - Genetic screening is a process used to find out what diseases or birth defects a child might inherit from his or her parents.
Genetic counseling - Genetic counseling is the process of determining the risk you have of passing on an inheritable disease to your baby.
Birth control (contraception, pregnancy prevention) - Birth control is the practice of preventing or reducing the probability of pregnancy without abstaining from sexual intercourse; the term is also sometimes used to include abortion.
Male condoms - Condoms are thin barriers made of latex, plastic, or natural membranes. The male condom fits over a man's penis. The female condom fits inside a woman's vagina.
Female condoms - The female condom is a polyurethane sheath or pouch about 17 cm (6.5 inches) in length. It is worn by a woman during sex.
Diaphragm - A diaphragm is a rubber disc a woman places into her vagina. The diaphragm blocks a man's semen from entering the cervix (the opening to the womb).
Cervical cap - The cervical cap is a small latex cup that a woman inserts into her vagina before sexual intercourse. The cervical cap fits snugly over the woman's cervix.
Birth control pills - The birth control pill is a small, usually white, tablet that is taken orally (by mouth). The pill usually comes in a packet that has days marked off for a cycle lasting about a month.
Norplant - Contraceptive implants (Norplant?) are six match stick size implants inserted into the upper arm. Norplant is a form of progestin that is placed under the skin.
Depo Provera - Depo Provera is a hormone, much like the progesterone a woman produces during the last two weeks of each monthly cycle. Depo-Provera or progesterone stops the woman's ovaries from releasing an egg.
Spermicides - Spermicides are chemicals that make the sperm unable to function. Spermicide can be used alone or with other birth control methods to reduce the risk of pregnancy.
Emergency contraceptive pill - Emergency contraception is the use of certain methods after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy.
Natural family planning - Natural family planning is defined as the understanding and use of the natural phases of fertility and infertility by a couple in order to either achieve or avoid pregnancy.
Intrauterine device (IUD) - An intrauterine device (intra meaning within, and uterine meaning of the uterus), is a birth control device also known as an IUD or a coil.
Birth control patch - The birth control patch is a thin plastic patch (1 3/4 inch square) placed directly on the skin of the woman. It is a hormonal method of contraception obtained by prescription.
Sterilization (vasectomy) - Sterilization is a surgical technique leaving a male or female unable to procreate. It is a method of birth control.
Fertility awareness method (FAM) - Fertility awareness is a means of understanding a woman's reproductive cycle by observing and writing down fertility signs.
Abstinence - Periodic abstinence is a way that sexually active women prevent pregnancy by becoming familiar with their fertility patterns and abstaining from vaginal intercourse on the days they think they could become pregnant.
Pre-eclampsia, eclampsia - Pre-eclampsia is a condition which only occurs during pregnancy. It causes high blood pressure, protein leaks from the kidneys, and other symptoms may develop.
HELLP Syndrome - The HELLP syndrome is a complication of pregnancy featuring a combination of abnormal conditions including emolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count.
Intrauterine growth restriction - Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) refers to the condition in which a foetus is unable to grow to its genetically determined potential size to a degree that may affect the health of the foetus.
Premature birth - Premature birth is defined medically as a birth occurring earlier than 37 weeks. Infants born prematurely have an increased risk of death in the first year of life.
Stillbirth - Stillbirth refers to the death of a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy but before birth. A pregnancy that ends before the twentieth week is called a miscarriage rather than a stillbirth.
Caesarean section - A Caesarean section (Cesarean section AE), is a surgical procedure to deliver one or more babies through an incision in the mother's abdomen and uterus.
Preterm labor - Preterm labor, or premature labor, is when the uterus (womb) contracts and the cervix opens earlier than normal.
Rh incompatibility - Rh incompatibility is a condition that occurs when the mother of a fetus or newborn has Rh-negative blood type and the fetus or newborn has Rh-positive blood.
Ectopic pregnancy - An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the fertilized ovum is implanted in any tissue other than the uterine wall.
Pregnancy diabetes (gestational diabetes) - Gestational diabetes is a condition in which the glucose level is elevated and other diabetic symptoms appear during pregnancy in a woman who has not previously been diagnosed with diabetes.
Group B strep - Group B streptococcus (group B strep) is a type of bacteria that causes infection among newborns, pregnant women or women after childbirth.
Morning sickness (NVP) - Morning sickness, also called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), affects between 50 and 85 percent of all pregnant women.
Hyperemesis gravidarum - Hyperemesis gravidarum means excessive vomiting during pregnancy. The severe vomiting associated with hyperemesis gravidarum requires medical attention.
Miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) - Miscarriage is the term used for a pregnancy that ends on it's own, within the first 20 weeks of gestation.
Postpartum hemorrhage - Postpartum bleeding (severe postpartum bleeding) is the loss of more than a pint of blood within the first 24 hours after delivering a baby.
Pregnancy-induced hypertension - Pregnancy-induced hypertension (also referred to as toxemia, preeclampsia and eclampsia) is a condition that may develop during the second half of a woman's pregnancy.
Pica - Pica is a pattern of eating non-nutritive substances (such as dirt or paper), lasting for at least one month.