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Your fertility

The female menstrual cycle

Most females will usually have a 28-35 day menstrual cycle. However, some women with certain health conditions may have a longer cycle or absence of periods. The first day of heavy bleeding is classed as day one in the cycle. Bleeding quantity and duration varies in every individual. A cycle begins with a period and ends with your next period.

How does a pregnancy start

A pregnancy usually occurs when a man’s sperm is deposited in the vagina during unprotected sexual intercourse. Sperm passes through the cervix and womb and fertilises an egg in the fallopian tube.

The time when a woman releases her egg is known as ovulation. Ovulation usually occurs at mid cycle, however, the exact day this happens varies between each individual. An egg will be able to be fertilised for only 12-24 hours, therefore, it is important to have regular unprotected sexual intercourse to optimise the chances of pregnancy.

Sperm is a reproductive cell found in men which is required to achieve a pregnancy inside a female. An egg is also a reproductive cell which is found in women and requires fertilisation by the sperm. If the egg is fertilised, it will develop into an embryo and implant into the uterine lining/endometrium to start a pregnancy.

Signs of ovulation

Ovulation pains and symptoms may not be experienced by all women. The pain/symptoms experienced are due to the release of an egg(s) from the ovary.

  • A dull/sharp pain or twinges in the ovaries. This can affect one or both sides of the ovaries. It can last for a few minutes up to a few days
  • Some women may also experience a change in discharge texture or some vaginal bleeding. The cervical mucus may be clearer or slippery around ovulation. It may have the appearance of raw egg whites. Discharge after ovulation has occurred is usually thick and white
  • Ovulation predictor kits can be used to aid detection of ovulation. These testing strips work by detecting a luteinising hormone surge (LH) in the hormones found when passing urine. These kits will advise on when there is an increase of the hormone and the best time to have unprotected intercourse
  • Other symptoms which may aid indication of ovulation include bloating; stomach pains and breast sensitivity

Further information about fertility can be found online.

Last reviewed: 06 March 2024