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Every month our body prepares itself for a possible pregnancy: it is the process known as the menstrual cycle.
Many unwanted pregnancies, especially among adolescents, are caused by a lack of awareness. Most women are not aware of when their most fertile days are and sometimes have unprotected sexual intercourse, which greatly increases the risk of pregnancy. To avoid such situations, it is essential to have a good knowledge of how our menstrual cycle works.
The beginning: egg maturation
We have our period because every month our body prepares itself for a possible pregnancy. The process begins when the ovaries develop a single mature egg – this is called ovulation – and produce hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone). These hormones are responsible for producing inside the uterus and other sexual organs the necessary changes for a possible pregnancy.
What is known as the ovarian cycle begins with the first day of menstruation, and over the next 14 or 15 days, the uterus prepares itself to receive a fertilised egg. Between day 12 and 16 of the cycle, if the egg meets a sperm during the journey down the fallopian tube, fertilisation will take place. The pre-embryo will be formed, which will reach the uterus 3 or 4 days after fertilisation. Once inside the uterus, it will install itself there: it is what is known as implantation. This moment is the start of your pregnancy.
If the egg fails to meet any sperm within 12 hours of reaching the fallopian tube, it will eventually die 48 hours after ovulation. Likewise, sperm are active in the uterus and fallopian tubes for 2 to 3 days.
If there is no fertilisation… menstrual bleeding
When fertilisation does not occur, our body makes the amount of progesterone we produce go down. This usually happens 14 days after ovulation, and that’s when we have the period: the uterus, which was preparing itself for the future embryo, sheds its lining, resulting in menstrual bleeding.
If we know our cycle, and it is regular – it is regarded as regular when it lasts between 24 and 35 days – the days on which we have a higher chance of getting pregnant are the ones that are 48 hours prior to ovulation: between day 12 and 16 of the cycle.