You Live With Your Body Everyday.
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Remember when you were just entering puberty and learning about the human body for the first time? Chances are you heard rumors about sexuality and fertility. Maybe you still do today. Accurate understanding is surprisingly low around the world.
How confident are you in your knowledge about fertility?
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Pregnancy can happen the very first time a person has sex.
Pregnancy can happen anytime a couple has sex during the woman’s fertile days, which happen around the time she ovulates. Ovulation is when an egg is released, usually about the middle of her menstrual cycle. The exact day of ovulation can be hard to figure out, and the timing may shift from cycle to cycle. She typically identifies about 10 to 12 days of the menstrual cycle when she is fertile.
For men, they are able to physically get a woman pregnant from the time they have their first ejaculation at puberty and for the rest of their lives (although their fertility may diminish somewhat with age).
A woman will get pregnant only if she has sex on the same day she ovulates.
A woman can get pregnant if she has sex as many as five days before she ovulates. Sperm can live for up to five days in the woman’s reproductive tract waiting for her to ovulate. After ovulation, the egg will remain viable for 12-24 hours. If the egg is not fertilized during this time, she will not become pregnant during that menstrual cycle. To increase her chances of becoming pregnant, a woman should have unprotected sex several days before she ovulates and on the day of ovulation.
At age 17, men become fertile which means they can get a woman pregnant.
Fertility in men does not begin at a particular age. It is determined by the physiological changes in their bodies. Ejaculation (including wet dreams) is a sign that a boy is physically able to get a girl pregnant. Boys are not born with sperm; they begin to produce them during puberty. A boy begins to produce sperm and continues to produce them through his entire life.
Cervical secretions are one sign that a woman is fertile.
Cervical secretions are a natural part of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Several days after a woman experiences her period (monthly bleeding), she will begin to notice cervical secretions which is a wetness or fluid in the vaginal area. At first they will be slight, but they will increase and become more watery as she approaches ovulation.
What’s the point of secretions?
- They nourish the sperm as they make their way to the egg.
- They help sperm travel through the uterus to meet the egg. When secretions have a greater water content (which occurs around the time of ovulation), they help the sperm to swim more efficiently towards the uterus.
- They facilitate the fertilization process. The sperm can live for up to 5 days in the woman’s reproductive tract waiting for ovulation if secretions are present. If there are no cervical secretions, the acid environment of the vagina wears away the sperm almost immediately.
Cervical secretions are different from wetness due to arousal and discharge due to infection (which do not influence fertility).
The size of a man’s penis affects his ability to get a woman pregnant.
For men, the likelihood of achieving pregnancy is based on the health of the man’s sperm and his ability to transmit those sperm to his partner (i.e. ejaculation) not on the size of the man’s penis. If the quantity and quality of the man's sperm are low, it will be difficult, and sometimes impossible, for him to get a woman pregnant. Many factors can negatively affect male fertility. Several examples include: congenital/genetic disorders, serious injury to the testes, age, weight, smoking, and sexually transmitted infections. It is important to know that some factors related to male infertility are lifestyle choices which can be prevented.
It is normal for women to have menstrual cycles that are shorter or longer than 28 days.
A woman’s menstrual cycle—NOT to be confused with her period!—begins the first day of her menstrual bleeding and ends the day before her next period begins. Keeping track of periods is the first step to learn about menstrual cycle lengths and how they change over time. For most women, the average cycle length ranges anywhere between 25-35 days.
Yet, each month, her cycle may vary. This is completely normal! When a girl first gets her period, she may have irregular cycles. After time, she will start to see a pattern that is regular for her body. Tracking periods can help a woman be prepared for her next period and understand her body’s patterns.
After having a baby, a woman can only get pregnant again when her periods return.
If a woman has had a baby and is not breastfeeding (or only partially breastfeeding), it may take just a few weeks for her to become fertile again—even if her period has not yet returned. This is because the egg is released approximately two weeks before her period begins. The return of fertility varies significantly from woman to woman.
If a woman does not want to become pregnant again soon after the birth of her baby, she should use a family planning method.
When a woman gets pregnant, what determines whether she will have a girl or a boy?
When a woman’s egg is fertilized with sperm, the sex of the baby is determined immediately. Sperm contain “chromosomes.” There are two types of chromosomes—either an X or a Y. If the sperm contains a Y chromosome, the child will be male; if it contains an X chromosome, the child will be female. The man’s sperm determines whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
Which of the following is NOT a sign of ovulation?
A woman’s monthly period (bleeding) is not a sign of ovulation. A woman’s period is a sign that during the previous menstrual cycle, pregnancy did not take place. The bleeding is a way for her body to begin the cycle again. A woman’s period helps her body to prepare for ovulation, but it is not a sign of ovulation.
Several signs in a woman’s body do let her know she is approaching ovulation, including secretions (especially increasing amounts of watery secretions) and softening of her cervix. Some women notice a temporary ache or pain in one side of their abdomen during ovulation. Once she has ovulated, her body temperature will increase slightly and remain elevated for the rest of her menstrual cycle.
We're almost done! Let's see how good you are at assessing risk. Rank each response on the scale below from least likely to most likely to lead to pregnancy.
Having unprotected sex:
THE WEEK AFTER OVULATION
The chances of pregnancy happening from having unprotected sex the week after ovulation are low. After a woman ovulates, the egg is only viable for up to 24 hours. If she has unprotected sex on the day immediately following ovulation, pregnancy is possible. Any later and she will not become pregnant.
THE DAY OF OVULATION
If a woman has unprotected sex the day she ovulates, this increases her chances of becoming pregnant. However, the exact day of ovulation can be hard to figure out and the timing may shift from cycle to cycle. For a woman to know exactly which day she ovulates each month, she will need to monitor her body’s signs of fertility throughout her menstrual cycle.
THE WEEK BEFORE OVULATION
If a woman has unprotected sex the week before she ovulates, this increases her chances of becoming pregnant. A woman can get pregnant if she has sex as many as five days before she ovulates. Sperm can live for up to five days in the woman’s reproductive tract waiting for her to ovulate.
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