Irregularities in the menstrual cycle can adversely affect a woman's chances of getting pregnant. For a woman to get pregnant, ovulation (release of an egg during the middle of the cycle) should take place and the egg should get fertilized with the sperm. The fertilized egg then gets implanted in the uterine lining. Thickening of the uterine lining is one of the bodily changes that occur so as to facilitate the implantation of the egg into the lining of the uterus.
Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that are responsible for the thickening of the uterine lining, as well as the shedding of the lining in case the fertilization of an egg and sperm doesn't take place. If the fertilized egg gets implanted, the uterine lining continues to thicken, and menstrual bleeding doesn't take place. This is the reason why a missed period is considered to be the most common indicator of pregnancy by women who are trying to conceive.
At times, women may experience certain bodily changes or behavioral symptoms even before the due date. These could be the early signs of pregnancy. It must be noted that these may not be the same for every woman. Even the time of onset of these symptoms may vary from woman to woman.
The physical changes that a woman may experience after conception are mainly due to the secretion of the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG), which is the pregnancy hormone that is being produced by the placenta as soon as the fertilized egg gets implanted in the uterine lining. Implantation usually takes place 7-10 days after ovulation. hCG continues to rise till the 12th week of pregnancy. hCG regulates the growth of estrogen and progesterone.
Rise in the Basal Body Temperature
During and after ovulation the estrogen level rise resulting in an increase in the body temperature. If the egg doesn't get fertilized with the sperm, estrogen levels drop. This is followed by bleeding. If a woman conceives, estrogen levels continue to rise in order to thicken the uterine lining. Though a slight but sudden dip in body temperature is normally seen on the day of implantation, you'll notice that the temperature stays high for about two weeks, without dropping.
Implantation Bleeding and Cramping
Implantation bleeding refers to the spotting that may occur 7-12 days after ovulation. The bleeding could occur a few days before the due date of period, which is why women may mistake it for their period. Bleeding or spotting may occur when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine lining. Women may also experience abdominal cramps. They may consider these symptoms to be the premenstrual syndrome.
Frequent urination is one of the most common symptoms that may be experienced by women during the course of pregnancy. A woman might feel the need to relieve herself every two or three hours. This is mainly due to the increased blood volume. The increased blood flow to the pelvic region caused by the hCG hormone, also causes the bladder to become sensitive. This leads to frequent urination.
The interplay of hormones causes various changes. These hormonal changes could cause an imbalance in the neurotransmitters, which are neurochemicals that can affect a person's mood. Since there are drastic changes in the levels of hormones, especially during the first few weeks after the conception, women are likely to experience mood swings.
Women may feel tired and sleepy. Fatigue or lethargy may set in 2-3 weeks after conception. The hormonal changes that are taking place in the body could be responsible for causing fatigue. A woman's body has to work harder to adjust to provide nutrients to the fetus. The heart has to pump harder, as the fetus gets nutrition from the mother's blood. Pregnant women may also feel sleepy, due to the increase in the production of progesterone hormone, which is central nervous system depressant.
Sore breasts are one of the prominent signs of pregnancy. Nipples could also be tender to touch. The increased production of estrogen and progesterone is responsible for such changes. Breasts may swell up and look fuller, as the volume of blood and fluid increases during pregnancy. The increased blood volume could also be responsible for causing tingling sensations in breasts.
The drastic change in the levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause an intense urge to consume particular food items (food cravings). It is believed that progesterone acts as an appetite stimulant, whereas estrogen regulates the appetite. There are other theories regarding the etiology of food cravings. One of the theories states that such cravings may be a physiological mechanism that the body employs to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
In some cases, women may experience indigestion, constipation, and loss of appetite, coupled with nausea. They could experience heartburn, which refers to the regurgitation of the gastric juices from the stomach to the esophagus. Morning sickness, which is characterized by nausea and vomiting, is one of the most common signs of pregnancy. Morning sickness could occur 2-8 weeks after conception.
Besides the aforementioned symptoms, hormonal changes could also give rise to headaches, dizziness, or a heightened sense of smell. The aforementioned symptoms may or may not appear in all women. Since some of these symptoms are experienced by women before periods, women may not take them seriously. Hence, the only way to find out whether you are pregnant or not, is by taking a home pregnancy test. If the test comes up negative, consult a gynecologist to confirm, since home tests are not always a hundred percent accurate.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.