Even though we say ‘2 weeks pregnant’ you are still not actually pregnant yet. As we explained in 1 Week Pregnant, if you receive a positive pregnancy test the first day of your last period is the best constant upon which an Estimated Due Date or EDD can be calculated. However while you may not be pregnant yet your body is not hanging around idly waiting for a pregnancy to occur. Quite the contrary. Your body is working hard to prepare your body for a baby.
At 2 weeks pregnant your baby has not yet been conceived. Last week you had your period which has likely now ended. Nestled in one of your ovaries is an ovum (an egg) which is starting to ripen and together with a sperm is destined to become your baby.
By around the end of this week the ripening egg in your ovary will be released into your fallopian tube. This moment is what we term ovulation. Very occasionally more than one ovum may be released. If both are successfully fertilised and implant in your uterus, fraternal twins (non-identical twins) is the result.
The timing of ovulation is not an exact science. While on average women will ovulate around the middle of their cycle (that’s day 14 in a 28 day cycle) women can ovulate anywhere from day 6 to day 21. Meanwhile the progesterone levels in your body are rising. This triggers the lining of your uterus to begin thickening, laying down lots of tiny blood vessels. When you have a period, it is this lining that comes away and is discarded by your body.
If you are trying to conceive you are quite likely waiting patiently (or maybe not so patiently!) for ovulation to occur. It can be a nerve-wracking time. If your cycle is being tracked for an IVF frozen embryo transfer or an ICSI procedure, you will be having bloody tests and waiting for the one that shows ovulation has occurred.
Your emotions at this time might be anywhere from excitement to quiet contemplation to outright fear. No matter where you are in that scale, it is important to try to stay as calm as you can. Get lots of sleep and do something you enjoy. Keeping yourself busy and going about life as usual can help to avoid dwelling on the waiting game. Remember there’s some more waiting to be done after ovulation.
When a female baby is born she already has in her ovaries every ovum she will ever release. Your eggs began to age even before you were born! Conversely a man produces sperm throughout his life. This is one of the key reasons why women’s fertility declines through their life, and rapidly so after about 35. Meanwhile men are able to produce virile sperm long after.
Another interesting fact about sperm and ova is their respective ‘lifespans.’ Once ovulation occurs an ovum will live for only around 24 hours. In contrast sperm can live for about 72 hours inside your body. Doing a little quick maths will tell you that if you have sex up to three days before ovulation, you could fall pregnant. In fact having sperm ready and waiting for your ovum to be released makes good sense – capitalising on the entire 24 hours your ovum lives. This can be a good reason to track ovulation over a number of cycles to develop an understanding of where in your cycle you generally ovulate.
Let’s face it. When two people are strongly attracted to each other, the sex can be amazing. Supercharged with passion we are gripped by the chemical reactions which mingle between us and take us far away from everyday life to a place of sheer pleasure... and then we start trying for a baby.
There is no denying that attempting to conceive can be a huge passion killer. Gone is the spontaneity of sex and it is place are an ovulation calendar, temperature chart, saliva testing kits, anxious calculations and impatient waiting. If you are attempting to conceive through IVF the road is no less challenging. You will be attempting to avoid natural conception, as odd as that sounds, ahead of an IVF transfer or ICSI procedure. You may have just been through a rigorous egg collection cycle in which those most intimate parts of your body have been poked, prodded, examined and viewed by a barrage of medical staff… it’s not exactly the stuff of a night of mind-blowing pleasure now is it?
When trying to conceive, sex can cease to be an intimate act shared between two committed people and instead become a mechanical, time regulated chore. If conception does not occur early on in your quest, which is often the case for many couples, sex can also become associated with disappointment and an even stronger desire to ‘get it right.’ One of the important things to remember is that after the positive pregnancy test, there is a long and potentially challenging road ahead to parenthood – it’s a road you will walk with the one you love. Your ability to stay connected and responsive to each other is important. You need each other – your understanding, your love and yes the sexual relationship between you.
Instead of fixating on the day of ovulation like a green light on a racetrack, remember what we have said about the longevity of sperm and ova. There are three days before ovulation and one after in which having sex could lead to conception – that’s four days - and unless you have been advised otherwise by a medical professional, you can have sex at other times! When we look at the statistics on conception we see that it is the couples who have regular sex that are most likely to succeed in the first year. Remember - happy and contended you is far more likely to succeed than stressed and frustrated you.
The information contained in this article is intended as a guide only. If you are experiencing any unsettling symptoms, such as pain or bleeding, or are concerned about any other aspect of your pregnancy, please contact your midwife, obstetrician or GP for an individual diagnosis and assistance.
Written 28 May 2014 for www.pregnancy.com.au