Know Your Body

Science-backed articles about women's health, fertility, sex, periods, and more.
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FertilityCan a Tilted Uterus Cause Infertility?A tilted or retroverted uterus, which tips backward toward the spine instead of forward, may develop in any woman over time. One in four women has a tilted uterus. Some women are born with a tilted uterus, meaning they have a genetically inherited condition, or the ligaments which surround the uterus may slacken as you age, allowing the uterus to tilt backward. Sometimes scarring from pelvic surgery may affect the position of the uterus, pulling it into a backward slant. Menopause may cause the uterus to tilt when the normal uterine hormones stop and the pelvic muscles weaken. A similar tilting effect is caused by uterine fibroids. Childbirth also weakens the pelvic muscles and a cesarean birth may interfere with the muscle functioning, resulting in a tilted uterus. Endometriosis, or the growth of uterine tissue, may cause it too. The normal position of the uterus is that it leans forward toward your navel. The tilted uterus leans back toward your bladder and your spine. In some women, this may cause urinary tract infections, because the pressure of the uterus on the bladder may prevent it from being emptied properly. Another side effect is urinary incontinence. However, a tilted uterus doesn't have a negative effect on fertility and conception or the health of the growing baby. How a Tilted Uterus Affects Pregnancy It's safe and normal for a baby to develop in a tilted uterus, and it won't be harmed by the position of the uterus. Once you have conceived, a tilted uterus carries the pregnancy safely, and by the third month, the uterus starts to gravitate forward with the weight of the embryo. This brings it into a more normal position so that the baby develops normally and there's less pressure on the spine and bladder of the mother. The baby can be carried in a tilted uterus with no bad effect until birth. Getting pregnant will not be affected by a tilted uterus. However, sex in certain positions may be painful, because the cervix is in a different position and may be bumped. If there's deep thrusting, this may be uncomfortable. This will affect the ease of sexual activity. How a Tilted Uterus Affects Fertility A tilted uterus doesn't affect fertility. How a Tilted Uterus Affects Period Your menstrual cycle is not affected by a tilted uterus. The only effect of this position of the uterus on your period is that it may cause you to have more pain and discomfort at this time. It may also be more difficult to insert a tampon due to the different position of the cervix. It may feel as if the tampon is nudging the cervix, which can be very uncomfortable. Exercises to Fix a Tilted Uterus There are exercises you can do to work on the tilted uterus and try to get it back to a normal position. The exercises may strengthen the ligaments and orient the uterus to a more normal position. The following exercises are most helpful - have a look at photographs of yoga positions to see the cat, camel, and plank positions: Lying on your back on the floor, with knees bent, practice curving the hollow of your back up and away from the floor, then flattening it. In the same position, press down with your feet on the floor, and press down with your shoulders, lifting your buttocks off the floor to make a bridge with your bent legs. This bridge of the gluteal muscles can be extended to make a bridge of your back. In that case, you try to lift your whole back so that just your head is resting on the floor, and your legs are doing the work of the bridge.Lying on a cushion, do elevated hip thrusts.The cat stretch, alternating with the camel stretch (yoga positions).Reverse plank, making a table of your torso and thighs, facing upward; and the plank, in which you rest your forearms and toes on the floor and raise your body into a straight line, with legs straight and toes digging into the ground for traction. Your overall health and strength, and regular periods are good signs of high fertility, and having a tilted uterus is not an obstacle.
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Infant feedingBest Supplements for IVF Implantation to Increase FertilityIn vitro fertilization (IVF) is a series of complex procedures that help with fertility in women and assist with conception. During IVF, the woman takes medication that causes several of her eggs to mature and become ready for fertilization. The mature eggs are then collected through a retrieval process and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized eggs (embryos) are transferred back into the uterus. Pregnancy occurs if any of the embryos implant in the lining of the uterus. One full cycle of IVF takes about three weeks. Sometimes these steps are split into different parts, and the process can take a bit longer. IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology (ART). The procedure can be done using a couple's own eggs and sperm if they are struggling with natural conception. Alternatively, IVF may involve eggs, sperm, or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. Before a couple enters their first IVF process, they may be advised to take some prenatal vitamins to boost their chances of falling pregnant. Best Supplements for IVF Implantation When trying to conceive with fertility treatment, make sure you’re supporting your body and optimizing your fertility with the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The first step is to focus on eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. You need to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in different colors to ensure you're giving your body the necessary nutrients from their original source. It's also advisable to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Once you've covered your basis by eating well, you're ready to consider fertility vitamins to increase pregnancy chances. The below supplements are usually taken by women undergoing IVF and can commonly be found in prenatal vitamins. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) CoQ10 is an antioxidant needed by every cell in the body, including ovaries. This supplement can improve the ovaries' response to stimulation and can also balance out oocyte (immature egg) deficits, therefore increasing the chances of IVF being a success. DHEA DHEA is a hormone that's converted to androgens by the female body. Androgens are hormones that contribute to growth and reproduction in both men and women. Follicles on the ovaries (where an immature egg is housed) contain androgen receptors during early egg development. By taking these supplements early on, the quality and quantity of eggs being produced can be improved. This supplement is especially important for older women trying to conceive. Vitamin D This vitamin is naturally found in fish, eggs, cereals, orange juice, and milk. It's quite common for women to have below-average levels of vitamin D, and are therefore recommended to take this supplement as studies have shown that women with a normal or high level of vitamin D are four times as likely to conceive through IVF than those with lower levels. Folic Acid This vitamin B complex helps the body make new, healthy cells and is found in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, whole grains, and beans. It's important to take folic acid before attempting pregnancy as it helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Omega 3’s/Fish Oil Fertility is directly influenced by the immune system. By taking this supplement, you are ensuring the health of your immune and reproductive systems. Best Supplements for Male Fertility Before the men think they have the easy hand in this, it's not all up to the women to take prenatal vitamins in IVF. Men play an equally important role when it comes to successfully falling pregnant, so naturally, there are many supplements for them to take to increase their own fertility rates. During IVF or natural conception, men are also advised to take similar supplements to women. It's recommended that men start taking the following supplements three months before starting IVF with their partners: Vitamin E 400 IUVitamin C 100 mgSelenium 26 ugmZinc 25 mgLycopene 6 mgFolate 0.5mgGarlic 1000 mg Once IVF has started, women are advised to eat as if they were already pregnant. This ensures optimal health and wellness from the very beginning of a potential pregnancy. The best food to eat after IVF includes bananas, berries, broccoli, beetroot, leafy greens, whole grains, good sources of protein such as beans, eggs, nuts, salmon, yogurt, and many others. In order to maximize fertility chances and ensure a healthy pregnancy, check with your doctor first before taking any supplements as they will advise on the right supplements and quantities for you. It's also important to remain hopeful and positive during the IVF timeline because if all goes well, you and your partner will soon be expecting your own bundle of joy!
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Trying to conceiveBest Food to Eat After IVF Embryo Transfer: Do's and Don'ts of IVF It's probably safe to assume that if you and your partner are maneuvering your way through the extensive and expensive IVF (in vitro fertilization) process, you are both serious yet excited about falling pregnant. In which case, you must be anxious to know what you can do to increase your chances of success. General health and wellness make a major difference when it comes to fertility and your chances of becoming pregnant. Sometimes, altering your diet can boost your chances for both natural conception and fertility treatments. There is no SUPER strict diet to follow after undergoing IVF, but there are some common and understandable do's and don'ts to take into consideration. These foods and lifestyle changes can be followed after the entire IVF process has been completed as well as after having undergone the IVF egg retrieval process. What to Eat After Embryo Transfer Preferably, you should be eating healthy in the months leading up to your IVF procedure. From then on, you're encouraged to eat as if you're already pregnant. This ensures optimal health and wellness from the very beginning, right up to a potential pregnancy. Ideally, you’ll want to eat along the lines of the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes whole foods, healthy fats, and low sugar intake. Here are the best foods to eat after the embryo transfer: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Bananas BeetrootsBroccoliBerriesDatesLeafy green vegetablesSproutsSweet potatoes Protein AnchoviesBeansEggsHummusNutsSalmonSardinesSeedsYogurt Carbohydrates OatsWhole grain cereals Food to Avoid After Embryo Transfer Hand-in-hand with the foods you should eat, there are also a few foods you probably want to avoid after your embryo transfer. Most of them are quite obvious and shouldn't come as a complete shock. Alcoholic beveragesSodas (high sugar content) The alcohol and the high sugar content are bad for your health and bad for the embryo that’s been implanted. Processed foodsJunk foods and sweetsProcessed meatsSoft cheeses These tend to be worse for general health and wellness due to preservatives and fillers. While fish is an ideal source of protein and healthy fats, you’ll want to avoid fish and seafood with a high mercury content. That includes tuna, mackerel, and sea bass. Lifestyle Tips: Do’s and Don’ts After IVF When you’re going through IVF, the day your doctor actually transfers the embryo into your uterus may seem like a distant dream. So when the big day finally arrives, it’s quite an event! In fact, it’s probably safe to say that the embryo transfer is one of the highest points in the IVF timeline for most people. Afterward, you may feel like you’re on pins and needles, impatiently waiting to find out if it was successful. If you're experiencing no symptoms after IVF, don't panic as this is completely normal and doesn't mean that the embryo transfer wasn't a success. Right now and for the next few weeks, you and your health are top priority. Stay calm and follow these simple do's and don'ts to ensure you are caring for yourself correctly. The Do's While it isn’t necessary to treat yourself like glass (the embryo won’t fall out!), you should relax and take it a little bit easy. Pamper yourself Relax and think positive thoughts. Try to take a few days off work and remain in bed.Embrace healthy eating Continue to eat the wholesome foods you've been eating thus far.Continue taking your meds Your doctor may instruct you to continue taking your prenatal vitamins during IVF and possibly additional supplements to ensure you are at optimum health.Drink plenty of fluids This will keep your cells hydrated and is essential for proper cell functioning.De-stress Take that stroll on the beach, park walk, yoga, or meditation class. The Don'ts Avoid sex Sexual intercourse can trigger uterine infections which can disrupt the embryo.Take a pregnancy test right away This may be incredibly difficult! But it can take a few weeks for your body to produce enough pregnancy hormone (HCG), which is necessary for a clear pregnancy test result.Ignore troubling symptoms Women taking fertility medicines may develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). If you experience any abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, contact your doctor immediately.Avoid strenuous exercise This is not the time to put your body under strain. Take it easy and allow your body to do what it needs to do. Caring for yourself after your embryo transfer provides you with a wonderful opportunity to incorporate healthy habits into your life. And making your health your number one priority, if it hasn’t been, is long overdue.
Smiling woman holding up an ovulation test
FertilityHow Long After a Positive OPK Will You Ovulate?If you're using an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) at home, you want to be sure about what to expect from it. The OPK tests your urine for luteinizing hormone (LH), which is released in an extra surge by your body as a trigger to ovulation. How to Use an OPK at Home Luteinizing hormone is always present in your body and supports your fertility. Start to use the test when you anticipate you might be entering the ovulation stage in your menstrual cycle. This would be after your period ends and before you reach mid-cycle (between day 7 and day 15). Use the test by following these steps: Urinate in a small cup.Dip the test stick into the urine, or hold the stick under the stream of your urine. The best time to take the ovulation test is in the morning (the first time you pass urine) so that the hormone is not too diluted by a large volume of liquid.Wait a few minutes for the test to take effect on the stick.Check the two lines which show on the stick. The control line shows you've done the test. The other line, the test line or ovulation indicator, shows the presence of LH.The result is positive when the test line is darker than the control line. Therefore, you will ovulate within the next three days. However, the test line showing LH is not as sensitive and definite as it could be. You might see a line that is dark at the edges or just dark on the top. Ideally, the indicator line on the ovulation text should not be faint, but dark and solid to give you a clear idea that an ovum is about to be released. Women who are anovulatory may use an OPK to track results after inducing ovulation. How Long You’ll Ovulate For After a Positive OPK The day of ovulation varies for individual women, depending on the pattern of their menstrual cycles. Some women have shorter cycles, some ovulate later than others. Your ovulatory phase is indicated by increased cervical mucus, a rise in body temperature, sensitive breasts, increased libido, and possibly low abdominal pain. But the positive OPK test result is helpful because it shows that your ovulation is about to happen within the next three days - or it might be happening at that instant. When you ovulate, the ovum (egg) is released from the follicle of the ovary in a burst, moving towards the end of the fallopian tube. This is the ideal territory—and time—for it to be fertilized by healthy sperm. The ovum only lives for 12-24 hours and starts to disintegrate after that, moving into the uterus and passing out of your body. The test is meant to detect the hormone before you ovulate, so that you can use your fertile days for conception. Ovulating The Same Day As a Positive OPK: Is It Possible? It is possible to ovulate on the same day as a positive OPK, but beware of assuming this is always the case. A positive OPK only tells you that your body is releasing a high level of LH. However, infertility may also be indicated by a high LH level, for example polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In rare cases, the surge does not indicate you have ovulated. Usually, the surge in LH only lasts eight to 20 hours, after which you may ovulate. On the other hand, some women do ovulate on the same day as the LH surge, so it is possible to ovulate on the same day as the positive OPK. How Long Do LH Levels Stay High During Ovulation? The level of LH only stays high for eight to 20 hours. It's promoting ovulation, that's really its only function. The level decreases after the ovulation phase. The Best Time to Have Sex After a Positive OPK Your positive OPK result shows that you have entered the window period of fertility. Three to six days leading up to ovulation, including the ovulation day itself, is the best time for getting pregnant. Sperm live for up to five days, so even when you have sex at the first indication of a positive test, the sperm will still be active if you ovulate three days after that. It's best to have sex once a day during this fertile phase, and preferably in the morning when the cooler conditions produce the healthiest sperm. By using an OPK test, which predicts ovulation with 97% accuracy, you have a good indicator of your ovulation. This knowledge of your fertile window helps you plan to conceive.
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Birth controlSo You Want To Safely Stop Birth Control? Side Effects and Benefits Most women and young girls use birth control for a variety of reasons, including avoiding pregnancies, regulating periods, or controlling acne. They often stay on that birth control for quite some time. Aside from trying to get pregnant when one notices signs of high fertility, some women stop taking birth control because of how it makes them feel. Here are some common reasons why women stop using their birth control: You experience side effectsYou want to have a babyYou don't have sex a lotYou have health concerns Whatever your reason for stopping birth control, it's your choice, and you must always do what's best for you and your body. Possible Side Effects of Stopping Birth Control Stopping birth control can have different effects on different people. There may be a delay in the ability to conceive for the first few months; however, it does not negatively affect fertility. Here are the most common side effects that may arise once you stop birth control: Changes in your menstrual cycle Heavier periodsCramping during ovulationPremenstrual syndrome (PMS)Changes in moodWeight gainAcneUnwanted hair growthHeadachesTender breastsChanges in sex drive Some women may also experience "post-pill amenorrhea" - missing their period right after going off the birth control pill. It may take a few months for the natural menstrual cycle to return. Women who stop using an IUD may experience bleeding, bloody discharge, or painful cramps after the removal. Usually, you’ll have no serious side effects from stopping birth control, but if your period doesn’t resume after about 4-8 weeks, go to your doctor to check for possible problems. Benefits of Getting Off Birth Control Here are some common reasons women stop using birth control: Mood Many women feel that once they start birth control, they stop functioning at their optimal mental status or often feel not quite like themselves. But once birth control was stopped, they began to feel more themselves and had more elevated moods.Improved sex drive It can be quite common for your sex drive to diminish once on birth control, so once you stop taking it, you may find yourself more interested in having sex.Weight loss You may have gained a bit of weight when starting birth control, so the scale might go down when you stop using them.Fewer headaches If headaches were something you experienced more frequently after starting birth control, stopping it may provide you with relief. Less anxiety No more stressing about taking that birth control at the right time! How To Safely Stop Birth Control No matter what type of birth control you’re on, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor first. You can get advice, learn about possible side effects, understand how quickly you might be able to get pregnant, and your options if you don't want to conceive. Here is a basic breakdown for stopping each type of birth control: The pill This is the most popular choice among women who currently use contraception. You can stop the pill on your own any time - no need to finish your pack. The mini pill can also be stopped this way. Implants You can have it removed by a doctor or a nurse anytime. Patches You can simply peel off these adhesive squares yourself at any time.Intrauterine device (IUD) A doctor or a nurse can remove it in a few minutes.Vaginal ring You can stop using the ring at any point in your menstrual cycle.Birth control injection To stop this kind of birth control, you can simply quit taking the injection. You may still be safe from pregnancy for a few months while the hormones balance out, so if you're wanting to fall pregnant and this is your form of contraception, maybe stop taking the shot earlier. If you don't want to fall pregnant, make sure you still use a method of birth control such as condoms, tempdrop, or the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). You can also opt for Tri-Sprintec, but there are side effects for this medication. How Long It Takes for Hormones to Balance For most women, your period may return normally when it's your next cycle. For others, it may take longer. It is best to give your body at least three months to allow your hormonal system to stabilize. However, the birth control shot can take eight months to a year to wash out of your system if you've had at least three shots. The most important thing to remember is that everyone's body is different, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" answer here. Give your body time and speak to your doctor should you have any questions or concerns.
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MenstruationBest Tips for Controlling PMS Anger the Natural WayWomen are constantly being asked the sexist question of "is it that time of the month?" whenever we get a bit snappy or show frustration or anger towards our partners or family members. Many men do not understand that there are hormones at play during our menstrual cycle and that these hormones fluctuate each week and more often than not, bring about emotional symptoms that greatly influence our behavior. PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is a variety of symptoms that occur a week or two leading up to a woman's period. More than 90% of women say they experience PMS symptoms and the majority of the time, these symptoms are mild and manageable. But for some women, they become unbearable and lead to them missing work or school for a day or two. Many of the symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances, such as hormonal headaches, are the same as PMS symptoms. This is because both are influenced by fluctuating hormones. Why Does PMS Occur? PMS does not have a single conclusive cause, but it does have a variety of influences: Changes in hormone levels are constant in the menstrual cycle. Progesterone and estrogen peak during the luteal phase of the cycle and then drop rapidly, which can lead to irritability, anger, anxiety, and other mood changes.Chemical changes in the brain can also play a part with PMS. The brain's neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine) have many vital functions in the body such as mood regulation, emotions, and others. If these chemical messengers were to drop, they can bring about a low mood and other PMS symptoms.Existing mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety can increase your chances of experiencing PMS symptoms or experiencing them more severely. This is closely linked to the chemical changes mentioned above.Lifestyle factors and certain habits may also be contributing to PMS. Smoking, a poor diet and not getting sufficient sleep can all lead to your body not feeling its best and experiencing those symptoms more harshly. Relationship Between PMS and Anger PMS is dictated by varying levels of progesterone, estrogen, and serotonin in the menstrual cycle. When these hormones shift, they can bring about emotional and physical changes. The hormones act as mood stabilizers, therefore, when hormone levels decrease during your cycle, you may be left feeling irritable, sad, and even angry. Anger is one of the many, common PMS symptoms that women experience leading up to their periods. How to Control Anger Naturally During PMS Anger can also be easily controlled and managed. Let's look at some of the natural solutions to managing anger: Take natural vitamins to help relieve mood swings.Calcium has been found to help PMS-related feelings such as sadness, anger, and anxiety, so try eating milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy green vegetables, fortified orange juice, and cereals.Exercise by walking, running, swimming, or bicycling as it will release endorphins which will elevate your mood.Eat small, frequent meals to keep your blood sugar levels steady. This can also be used as a remedy for menstrual migraines.Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or sweets as these can disrupt your blood sugar levels.Relieve your stress through meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or by journaling. Alternatively, you can consider medication if you experience PMS symptoms quite severely. Taking birth control can help with PMS by helping you cope with those wild emotions, period pain, and heavy flow. Utilizing hormone balance supplements can also help to stabilize your mood. Speak to your doctor if these are options you'd like to try. Tracking Your Cycle to Monitor Anger If you want to monitor your anger and prevent it from becoming overwhelming, then it's a good time to start tracking your menstrual cycle (if you aren't already). You can do this by using a cycle tracking device. This will allow you to anticipate your PMS symptoms and have methods readily available to manage them to continue with your day-to-day tasks. This cycle tracking information can also be useful for a doctor to prescribe supplements or birth control. Don't be ashamed of your PMS symptoms or try to hide them away. Speak to others about them, have measures at your fingertips to lift your spirits, and remember that you're just another superwoman.
Woman sitting on sofa pressing her hands against her abdomen
Women's healthCan Fibroids Cause Missed Periods?Fibroids are abnormal growths of tissue, like a knot, which are usually harmless but can have bad side effects where they hinder your body's normal functions. In the uterus, they may trigger much heavier bleeding during menstruation or even between periods. This bleeding may interfere with conception and with the length of the menstrual cycle. Causes and Symptoms of Fibroids Fibroids may be very damaging to the normal functions in a specific place in your body—for example, a fibroid in your spine might paralyze you. However, when they grow in or around the uterus, they likely come from an abnormal muscle cell in the muscly walls of the uterus and are not malignant or cancerous. Once they are in the uterus, they are affected by the hormone, estrogen. When estrogen is released during ovulation, it makes the fibroids grow, just like fertilized eggs might grow after conception. Fibroids may also be linked to a hormonal imbalance, affecting the regularity of your periods. The symptoms of fibroids include the following: Heavy bleeding during periods (rapidly soaking through pads and tampons)Bleeding between periodsAnemia caused by loss of blood Low back painPelvic painPain during sexIncreased frequency of urinationComplications during pregnancy or labor How Fibroids Affect Your Period You might miss your period because of fibroids if you bleed between periods. This creates hormonal irregularities which disrupt the menstrual cycle and might prevent ovulation. It's important to consult your gynecologist about this. An ultrasound investigation or MRI might reveal fibroids or uterine polyps. Treatment might mean having the fibroids surgically removed, or trying to manage them with hormones or other medication. You may experience intense pain during your period when you have fibroids. This may need medical investigation if the pain is overwhelming. There are various ways to relieve period cramps, including using painkillers, exercising, avoiding certain foods, applying hot compresses, and staying hydrated. Painful periods can be managed in most cases by using a hormonal contraceptive pill. However, pain and bleeding caused by fibroids need special medical management. Fibroids may cause heavy menstrual bleeding because they affect the growth of veins and blood supply in the uterus. When you have a period and the endometrium is shed from the uterus, it will have a bigger surface area or more blood vessels, causing heavier bleeding than normal. This might also cause clots to form. The Risks of Not Treating Fibroids If they are not treated or removed, fibroids may grow bigger and may multiply over the surface of the uterus, disrupting possible conception and causing serious anemia. They might burst, causing severe pain and further bleeding. It would be better to consult your gynecologist and consider having them removed, possibly by uterine fibroid embolization, which is a surgical procedure performed without general anesthesia. When to Be Concerned About Missing Your Period If you are tracking your menstrual cycle, either by your own observation of physical changes or by using apps and devices, you may quickly notice a missed or late period. Each woman and each cycle is different and may vary slightly, so close observation is helpful. Depending on your environment, stress level, age, or illness, you may experience hormonal shifts which might lead to a late or missed period. You should be concerned if the missed period happens at least three times, is coupled with pain, or you suspect it could be a pregnancy. Repeated missed periods could also be an indication of cancer. Therefore, a checkup is essential. Get professional help to assess the fibroids and prevent further problems from developing.
Woman holding mobile phone with one hand and a packet of pills in the other hand
Trying to conceiveHow to Track Fertile Days in Your Period CycleWhen you're keen to conceive - or even to avoid conception - it's helpful to have a mental picture of what's happening to your body through the menstrual cycle and to know the signs of your fertility. There are four different phases of the menstrual cycle: Menses - the temporary extra lining of the uterus comes away (the endometrium) and is shed in a menstrual bleed lasting about two to seven days. Follicular phase - preparation for conception occurs as hormones trigger the release of a new ovum from the fallopian tubes, any time from 7 to 14 days from the first day of menstruation. The hormones also cause the uterus to develop a new endometrium for cushioning and nourishing. Ovulation - the ovum is available for fertilization by healthy sperm in this ideal uterine environment. This phase provides a window of opportunity for conception and is about two fertile days. Luteal phase - the ovum changes and is now called the corpus luteum or body of the egg. It releases more powerful hormones to trigger a richer environment in the uterus, but deteriorates if it's not fertilized by sperm within two days. If there is no fertilized corpus luteum attaching itself to the wall of the uterus, the thickened lining gradually begins to dissolve, and fertility is no longer possible in this cycle. Your body then prepares to get rid of these byproducts of fertility with a new menstrual flow. What Are the Signs of Ovulation? If you want to know when and whether you are ovulating, these are the signs of ovulation you need to attend to: after menstrual bleeding has stopped, your normal vaginal secretions change from being scanty, then watery and thin, to being thick, clear, and stretchy, like egg white, at about day 7 to day 10 of your cycle;your breasts may feel very sensitive;you may observe some low abdominal cramps like menstrual cramps as the ovum is released from the fallopian tube;you may experience some abdominal bloating, usually linked to these cramps;you may feel a heightened sense of sexual awareness and desire, which is a result of your hormones working to facilitate conception; andyour basal body temperature rises by about two degrees at ovulation and can be measured with a fertility thermometer. If you are not fertile, you will notice none of these signs, because they all rely on the luteinizing hormone, which is the main facilitator of fertility. The most easily observed sign is the clear, stretchy vaginal mucus. Fertile Days in Your Period Cycle All of these fertility signs are present for only about a two-day window period where you are most fertile. However, you can get pregnant if you have sex during the last days of your period because sperm lives for up to five days in the uterus. Your period may stop, and you may ovulate within those five days. Therefore, you can theoretically fall pregnant at any phase of your cycle. The varying factors include how long your menstrual cycle lasts, when you ovulate in a particular month, and how long the sperm may stay viable. Some men's sperm may be stronger swimmers or denser, making fertilization in the uterus likelier, even a few days after having sex. You may also fall pregnant more easily if you are within a profile of young and healthy women. To help you find out if you're pregnant, you should use a pregnancy test rather than an ovulation test, and be aware that it is most accurate two weeks after having sex, rather than immediately. How to Track Your Fertile Window The best way to track your fertile window is by monitoring the signs of ovulation either manually or by using a device for cycle and ovulation tracking. Can You Get Pregnant While on Your Period? This is possible but unlikely, because of the flow of blood and the discarding of the endometrium which a fertilized egg needs to attach to in order to grow. The conditions during your period are not as positive for conception as the ideal conditions during ovulation. However, with all the uncertainties at play in your body and your life, it's still possible.
Hands holding a stethoscope and  a clipboard with the word "hormones" on it
Women's healthHow Hormone Imbalances Affect Your Period—and How to Treat ThemHormones play an integral role in our daily lives and need to be taken seriously to ensure maximum health and functionality. Hormones are produced in the endocrine glands. They act as chemical messengers that travel along our bloodstream and tell our organs and tissues what to do. Hormones help control reproduction and can therefore affect our period, especially if we're experiencing hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalances are when there is too much or too little of a particular hormone, and these can have major effects on the body, even if the imbalance is minor. Some hormonal fluctuations can occur during puberty, menopause, pregnancy, or breastfeeding—all of which are completely natural. However, other changes can be due to endocrine glands that are not functioning properly, which can lead to more serious effects. Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalances There are many symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances, and it's essential to be familiar with them so that you can act accordingly. Here are some of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalances: Mood swingsHeavy or painful periodsLow libidoInsomnia or poor sleep qualityUnexpected weight gainSkin problems such as acneFertility problemsHeadaches or migrainesWeak bonesVaginal drynessExcess hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body Many of these symptoms go unnoticed as they aren't viewed as indicators of hormonal imbalances. From personal experience, I often perceived my acne as a result of a poor skin routine or not drinking enough water, or sleepless nights being caused by anxiety or stress—but they were all indicators of hormonal imbalances in my body and were leveled out quite easily. Which Hormone Imbalances Affect Your Period? As women, our bodies are drastically influenced by our estrogen and progesterone levels, so it makes sense for these two hormones to be the main culprits when it comes to experiencing "out of the ordinary" periods, such as irregular periods. Irregular periods are when the starting time between each period begins to change or if the length of your period varies a lot. There are many causes of irregular periods besides changes in our estrogen and progesterone levels. Some women have very low body fat (such as elite professional athletes or women with eating disorders), and, as a result, they experience extremely light or even non-existent periods, known as "amenorrhea." This is caused by a severe estrogen imbalance. How to Identify Which Hormone Imbalance You Have Testing hormones is very different from testing cholesterol or iron levels in your blood because hormones are constantly changing (day by day, hour by hour), and there are also more than 50 hormones in the human body! So asking your doctor to check your hormones is like asking them to find a needle in a haystack. Hormones change based on where you are in your menstrual cycle, when you last ate, your stress levels, other hormone activities, and many other factors. Your doctor can do hormone tests to determine which one is out of balance, but inform them of your symptoms so that they can narrow it down. You can also keep track of your own period and cycle to determine when (in which phase of your cycle) you are experiencing symptoms because different hormones fluctuate in each phase. This can also help narrow down the hormone that is in imbalance. Can You Treat Hormone Imbalances? Yes! The method of treatment will depend on the possible cause of the hormone imbalance. For example, if you are experiencing hormone imbalances due to menopause, there are a variety of hormone balance supplements for you to take. You can also look further into how birth control helps with PMS and regulating periods. There are also many natural remedies to consider. These begin by following a healthy lifestyle such as getting sufficient sleep each night (6-8 hours), eating a high-quality diet with enough protein and healthy fats and less sugar, managing your stress by meditating or practicing yoga, and exercising regularly. If natural remedies don't help, then you may need to seek professional medical care as an option, especially if your period suddenly acts out of the ordinary or if you experience more pain than usual during a period. In the end, we know our bodies best and will be able to detect when we're not quite feeling ourselves. Listen to your body, analyze the symptoms and act accordingly to make sure you are putting yourself and your body first!