In this blog we discuss:
- Your Menstrual Cycle and Your Fertile Window (when there’s a high chance for pregnancy and a low chance)
- Common Early Signs of Pregnancy
- How to Confirm if You’re Pregnant Or Not Pregnant
So, how can you know if you’re really pregnant? Keep reading to get the information you need to determine your next steps.
Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle and Pregnancy
Did you know that your menstrual cycle determines how likely you are to get pregnant at any given time? So, understanding where you are in your cycle can help you approach the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy with calm and clarity.
- The Menstrual Phase: Also known as your period, here your body has been building up a thickened uterine lining (the “walls” of your uterus) all month to prepare for a potential pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant, your uterus discharges the blood, mucus, and tissue it’s been collecting during this phase. This is the shedding of your uterus, a.k.a your period! This phase usually lasts 3-7 days and occurs every 24 to 38 days.
- The Follicular Phase: This phase begins at the same time as your period. Your ovaries make tiny sacs called follicles containing immature eggs during this stage. Also in this time, one of these eggs will become mature, which means it’s prepped and ready for fertilization (interaction with a male’s sperm cell).
- The Ovulation Phase: This is when you’re most likely to get pregnant. Ovulation usually occurs halfway through your menstrual cycle when the mature egg that developed in the follicular phase travels from one of your ovaries into your uterus. Once here, if semen enters the vagina, the mature egg is in position to be fertilized by a sperm cell – and this is where pregnancy can occur, also known as conception.
- The Luteal Phase: This is the stage of your cycle after the mature egg is released from one of your ovaries. The follicles where your immature eggs are housed now changes structure. It begins producing hormones to keep your uterine lining thickened and primed for pregnancy. If pregnancy occurs, (that is, a mature egg comes into contact with a sperm cell and the egg accepts the sperm), hormones keep the lining thick. If pregnancy does not occur, hormone levels decrease, and the menstrual phase begins again.
What Are the Early Signs of Pregnancy?
Let’s say that your body has cycled through the menstrual, follicular, and ovulation stages, your vagina has come in contact with semen, and a sperm cell has reached and fertilized your mature egg. In this case, it’s likely you’ll begin to experience the following symptoms, sometimes as early as one week after conception.
- Fatigue: Extreme exhaustion
- Nausea: An unsettled stomach, that feeling of needing to vomit
- Breast tenderness: A dull, aching pain specifically in your breast tissue
- A missed period: Your period is a week or more late
- More frequent urination: Not always a full bladder, but a felt sense of pressure in your lower belly, resulting in more trips to the bathroom to relieve yourself
- Spotting: Instead of your regular flow, you’re seeing small amounts of light pink to dark brown blood in your panties or when you wipe
- Food aversions or cravings: Foods you usually love suddenly don’t seem appetizing or, foods you usually dislike or have never tried seem appealing
- Moodiness: This may be tricky to identify for some women, but can usually present as increased sensitivity to life’s stressors; sometimes resulting in crying or rapid frustration with self and others.
While having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pregnant, checking in with your body and mind can help you identify if further confirmation is needed.
How To Find Out If You’re Really Pregnant?
If you’ve missed a period or have some pregnancy symptoms, here’s how you can confirm if you’re really pregnant.
Confirming Pregnancy After Unprotected Sex
Just because you’ve had unprotected sex DOES NOT mean you’re pregnant. Ovulation needs to have occured in order for you to become pregnant. However, if you have unprotected sex anywhere from 5 days before ovulation or 1 day after ovulation, you can become pregnant because of the duration that sperm can survive inside the vagina.
You may be wondering, how soon after unprotected sex can I take a pregnancy test? Typically, you can take a home pregnancy test as soon as the first day after your missed period. If you’re unsure when you’re supposed to get your period, it’s best to wait 21 days after having unprotected sex for the most accurate result. Should your home pregnancy test reveal that you are pregnant, the next step is to confirm that result with a pregnancy resource center, women’s center, or hospital.
Confirming Pregnancy After Your Missed Period
Missing a period also doesn’t always mean you’re pregnant. It could be due to:
- Extreme weight gain or loss
- High stress
- Hormone imbalances
- Birth control pills or change in birth control method
If you’ve missed your period and you’re concerned you may be pregnant, an at-home pregnancy test is an effective first step to determine if you’re pregnant or not. If your test result is positive, call your local pregnancy resource center or OBGYN to make a pregnancy confirmation appointment.
Pregnancy Confirmation Appointments
What to expect from your first appointment at our Center
At your confidential appointment with Pregnancy Choices, we’ll run a lab grade pregnancy test with your provided urine sample. The results are immediately provided to you.
Depending on the date of your last menstrual period, we may offer to perform an optional ultrasound, which is the most accurate way to confirm pregnancy. Finally, we’ll discuss all of your results with you and answer any questions you have.
At Pregnancy Choices, we provide completely free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. We can typically get you in for your appointment sooner than a hospital because we exclusively provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and STI testing. Our services are available Monday through Friday.
Please note that a pregnancy confirmation appointment with us is different from a prenatal visit with your OBGYN, as your doctor may also check your vital signs, order blood work, and perform a pelvic exam at an initial prenatal visit.
Your Pregnancy Resource Center: Support When You Need It Most
Considering you’re pregnant can feel overwhelming, and an unexpected pregnancy comes with many complex emotions. Our goal is to make pregnancy confirmation and planning as easy, supportive, and accessible as possible.
At Pregnancy Choices, we utilize a unique life coaching model that allows us to hold space for you to process whatever you’re feeling. We strive to empower you with information and resources in a non-judgmental environment, supporting you in whatever decision you make regarding your pregnancy.
https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/your-menstrual-cycle https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/stages-of-menstrual-cycle#menstrual https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-symptoms/early-signs-of-pregnancy/ https://americanpregnancy.org/can-i-get-pregnant-if/can-i-get-pregnant-if/ https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/trying-for-a-baby/doing-a-pregnancy-test/