Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pregnancy Tip- Your Hormones

I am planning on doing a series of posts on fertility and conception. Remember, this is all my basic understanding of it, and I am not a doctor. Unfortunately I cannot make you all pregnant, but I can maybe increase your understanding of your body and how to use this knowledge to help you get pregnant.

To start out I'm going to tell you about how the hormones in your body work. I will refer to these hormones in the later posts.

A brief overview of your hormones (as I understand it)

Pregnancy technically begins the day that your period starts. The reason being that your body cleans out the lining and prepares a fresh new lining for your baby to nestle in. So because this is the beginning of pregnancy, this is the first day of your “cycle,” and since it is a cycle I will get to why your period starts later. The first half of your cycle is estrogen driven. Meaning that everything occurs because of the estrogen your body is releasing. We’ve all heard of estrogen right? So I haven’t lost you yet. As estrogen is released it signals to the brain to release another very important hormone called the Follicle Stimulating Hormone or FSH. Inside your ovaries are “follicles” that have eggs inside them. Your body picks one of the many follicles and the FSH will nurture that follicle until it has grown to 18-30 mm. As this follicle grows it releases more estrogen which is going to trigger the next hormone, and a really important one- LH or lutenizing hormone. This lutenizing hormone comes in a big surge and it breaks down the follicle that surrounds the egg. About 12-36 hours after this surge the LH will break through the follicle and the egg bursts out. This is called ovulation.

The second half of your cycle is progesterone driven. Where does this progesterone come from? The follicle which the egg came from releases this progesterone. What does this progesterone do? Ahhh, it does a lot of things. One thing it does is raise your body temperature. This is important to know later. Progesterone keeps you from bleeding. Therefore if you are pregnant, the progesterone will keep you from bleeding so that the baby can get implanted and established. It’s very important in early pregnancy. But if you aren’t pregnant then the follicle shrivels up, stops releasing progesterone, and you will start to bleed.

Rule of Thumb- You can have periods without ovulating, but you can’t ovulate without having a period.

Explanation- You can bleed any time your body feels like it whether or not you are ovulating. Some people assume because they have periods they are fertile, but this isn’t always true- especially while breastfeeding. But the bleeding doesn’t necessarily mean ovulation/fertility. BUT, if you are ovulating, you WILL bleed 7-14 days later. The very act of ovulating, causing the increase and then drop in progesterone will make you bleed…. period. (no pun intended)

Breaking this all down to the basics in order- Estrogen/FSH, LH, ovulation, progesterone, bleeding, repeat.


attack of The Mouse said...

Thanks for the lesson. I think I needed it.

Lane & Elise said...

Oh and i'm sure I could add lots of comments to this topic! Lane and I (mostly I) had to go thru fertility treatment to have our little girl so we are both very knowledgeable on the subject. I ended up having to do hormone shots, and then eventually we did an IUI. Loads of fun! I actually have something called PCOS, which means that I don't ovulate, so we really had to take the whole fertility treatment step by step! It's kinda amazing to see the whole "baby" process step by step from the very start though!

Anonymous said...

I don't like the repeat...

Trisha said...

I meant to comment sooner- thanks for breaking it all down for me, I've tried (half-heartedly) to figure out what does what without making much sense on my own.
So once again, THANK YOU for sharing your expertise!

Gilpatric Family said...

You are making me so proud! Maybe nursing runs in the family