Fertilization and conception are two basic concepts that control how and when humans reproduce. However, even couples planning to have a baby may not know everything about staying fertile and basic facts related to conception reproductive cycle.
1) Infertility is more common than you think. Having ideal body mass index, exercising regularly and strictly following a healthy diet may ensure that you are healthy, however, it does not mean that you are fertile. Even healthy couples may face fertility issues at some stage of their reproductive life cycle. In fact, it is estimated that one out of every 6 healthy couples face fertility issues. One of the biggest factors that interfere with fertility is age, as it tends to decrease after a woman turns 27. The other major factor is wrong timing of the intercourse as a majority of couples believe that the day of ovulation is the best time for having intercourse if planning a baby. Instead, they must try throughout the fertile period.
2) Fertile period : When should you have sexual intercourse? Fertility period refers to the day of ovulation and the five preceding days that lead up to ovulation. For example, the fertility period of a woman who ovulates around the 14th day of her menstrual cycle is the day of ovulation (14) and five days leading up to ovulation (9-13). Therefore, these six days (9-14) are considered as the most fertile days of her cycle. The fertile period is the best time to have sexual intercourse as there are maximum chances of conception during this time.
3) Fecundability and Fecundity: What are your chances of successful pregnancy? Fecundability refers to the probability of a single menstrual cycle leading to successful pregnancy. On the other hand fecundity refers to the probability of a single cycle resulting in live birth. Female fecundability is calculated to be around 20 percent. That is, there is only 20 percent chance each month that your menstrual cycle will culminate into a successful pregnancy. Fecundability and fecundity are dependent on a number of factors, however, age continues to remain to be a major factor. While there is a drop in Fecundability because of a decrease in the number of oocytes (eggs) with age, fecundity drops with an increase in the number of miscarriages.
4) Female fertility depends on age: The quality and quantity of oocytes(eggs) in ovaries of a woman decline with age. When the female is still a fetus, there are around 6 to 7 million oocytes in the ovaries, however, the number decrease to 3 to 4 million at the time of birth. By the time a female reaches puberty, there are only 300,000 oocytes left in them. Nearly 30 to 50 oocytes compete with each other during each menstrual cycle to form a mature follicle that finally releases an egg for fertilization. As a result, the number of oocytes fall rapidly with advancing age. The menstrual cycles start to shorten just before menopause as more oocytes are recruited, leading to a rapid follicular loss.
5) Menstrual cycle explained: What exactly happens each month? A normal menstrual cycles last for 28 days, wherein the menstrual bleeding starts on Day 1 of the cycle and may last for 4 to 7 days. The menstrual cycle can be divided into three phases: follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Each phase is characterized by a set of changes in the ovaries, uterus and the hormone levels. This is what exactly happens inside ovary during each menstrual cycle:
The level of progesterone continues to remain high in case of successful pregnancy. The changes in hormones during each menstrual cycle are depicted in the graph below.