At one week in, well… you’re not actually pregnant yet! This is because the number of weeks into your pregnancy is determined from the date of the first day of your last menstrual period. This means that during the first week of “pregnancy,” the body is still actually getting ready to get pregnant.
There’s really no actual medical reason why this is part of the pregnancy. Doctors just monitor it this way because it a menstrual period is a “landmark” in time that a mom can remember easily. It is, after all, easier to monitor a period than determining when, exactly you ovulated!
At this time, chances are you’re still putting on tampons and praying that your period will be over soon. With a bit of luck, however, you won’t be getting another period for the next nine months or so!
At day zero, your levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are at a month-long low. They probably haven’t been this low since, well, last month! Estrogen was responsible for stimulating the growth of your endometrium, the inner lining of your uterus in which your baby-to-be shall implant. It also increased vaginal discharge.
Progesterone, on the other hand, was responsible for making the endometrium go into the luteinizing phase, preparing it for implantation. It was also responsible for thickening vaginal discharge.
Disappointed, perhaps, from the fact that you did not get pregnant over the past month, your uterus decides that all that thick, rich and vascular endometrium it has developed is of no use for now. It therefore releases this in its familiar monthly fit. The lining, along with some bleeding from the now-exposed blood vessels of the uterus gets shed over the course of two to seven days.
At this time, your womb is raw and red on the inside. To help control bleeding, the uterus may contract, causing discomfort or menstrual cramps.
Menstrual bleeding is basically your body’s way of telling you that, congratulations, you’re not pregnant. Which could be either good or bad news for you, depending if you actually wanted to be pregnant!
During this time, you’re likely to lose perhaps less than 80mL in blood and fluids. This is just about five to six tablespoons! We know it may seem like it’s way more than that, but it really isn’t. Your menstrual blood is likely to be bright red at first, but may become browner and scantier as the days go by.
In the meantime, your body isn’t through with plotting to make you pregnant yet! While your uterus is busy shedding off all that excess lining in disappointment, your ovaries remain ever hopeful.
Over the past months, in fact, the primordial follicles in your ovary have been developing ever so slowly ever since their “initial recruitment,” awaiting the month that they will finally be ready for, hopefully, ovulation. These primordial follicles, previously flat in form, now begin to form a sort-of cube called the primary follicle.
The primary follicle grows in size and begins the transcription of its containing genes. This results in the development of characteristics that can make the follicle ready for ovulation.
This is also the time in which the zona pellucida begins to develop. The zona pellucida is basically the strong outer membrane that wraps the single, large egg cell. It serves as a protective layer that plays a role in fertilization as well as the development of the fertilized egg just before implantation. This primary follicle eventually develops into the secondary follicle.
It’s important to note that the previous two steps actually occur months prior to the first day of your menstrual cycle. This means that your follicles have always been in production, waiting until they will finally be ready.
In any case, among the secondary follicles, only one will be chosen as the dominant follicle. This follicle is chosen at roughly the seventh day of the average 28-day menstrual cycle. This is the only follicle that will develop into the tertiary follicle, just the one that will be ovulated. The follicles that are not selected will degenerate and later be reabsorbed by the body. At this point, estrogen levels are slowly rising in preparation for ovulation.
So one of the things you can do this time to help keep you comfortable is proper menstrual hygiene. Yes, we know that sometimes it can be a pain to have to get up and take a shower at this time. We know the feeling of just wanting to spend the whole day in bed because, after all, you are bleeding out of your vagina.
But still, it’s not exactly agreeable to be all sticky and wet and bloody down there. You might therefore want to just grit your teeth, get up and wash up so that afterwards you’re free to spend the next few hours or so in the comfort of your bed.
Your preferred method of keeping that blood flow nice and controlled may vary. Pads are great all-around menstrual blood absorbers that you can just stick to your underwear easily. Some women, however, find them bulky and diaper-like.
Tampons are great if you don’t like the feel of pads. They’re also ideal if you’re doing sports or anything that requires a lot of movement as pads may get easily displaced when used for this purpose. Tampons are also good for swimming.
Since we’re talking about tampons, it’s inevitable that we talk about toxic shock syndrome. After all, the health warnings written on every tampon box can be enough to scare a girl into using pads forever. However, TSS is pretty rare. It was common with the use of certain super absorbent tampons, but those have since been pulled from the market.
The risk for TSS increases with tampons that are superabsorbent. These tampons promote the growth of the streptococcus bacteria, which cause this syndrome. If you must use superabsorbent tampons, just make sure to change them frequently and you should be fine.
Even if you’re technically not pregnant at this time yet, it’s still very important to ensure that you’re receiving adequate nutrition. After all, you are on your period. You must therefore eat balanced meals and keep yourself well-hydrated during this time. You might want to limit your intake of salt to reduce bloating, if you’re getting that.
If you have particularly heavy periods or have iron deficiency anemia, you might be prone to lightheadedness and even fainting. It is therefore important to eat foods rich in iron such as meat, beans and dark green, leafy vegetables. You may even have to take iron supplements to help you get by.
Ah, the stereotypical period mood swings. They do happen, but it’s important to note that they can be different for each woman. Some women don’t experience any noticeable mood changes throughout their cycle. Others report just feeling sad or slightly irritable. Some will be extra sensitive during this time, and yet others will be depressed.
The first important thing to know is that it’s perfectly fine to experience these emotions, no matter where you fit in this range. Just make sure to take care of yourself during this time. Talk to a friend. Get exercise, which can give your mood a boost. Try meditation, if you like. Treat yourself to your favorite food, although try not to overdo the sugar. Finally, if your symptoms are severe and persistent, you might want to get help to find out what’s up.
Your period can be a bummer when you’re actually trying to conceive. After all, it means that you’re not pregnant yet again. While you may find this extra frustrating, don’t give up just yet! If you’ve only been trying for a few months, it’s perfectly fine.
It often takes up to a year of having unprotected sex before most couples are able to get pregnant. It helps if you closely monitor your menstrual cycle so you know exactly which days you are most fertile. If you have gone past a year of trying to have a baby without success, however, you might want to consult a doctor. They will be able to run you through some diagnostic tests so you know how you can increase your chances.
The good news is, however, that depending on your cycle, you’re probably going to ovulate again in a couple of weeks. Give your chances of conception a boost by taking vitamins that might give your fertility a boost. If you or your partner smoke or drink, you may want to cut back or quit altogether as these can also lower your chance of conceiving.
Other methods that might increase your fertility include getting to a healthy weight, as both being underweight and being overweight can decrease chances of conception. If you’re feeling stressed out, try to loosen up or even go on vacation for a bit. Thinking about too many things (including worrying about having a baby!) may take a toll on your fertility.
Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not, it’s still important to keep track of your period. This will help you determine which days you’re most fertile, which could come in handy if you’re planning to get pregnant in the future. And it will also help you prepare for the next period, as well as keep track of the symptoms you experience throughout your menstrual cycle.
One thing that can help is to record this data onto an app dedicated to monitoring your menstrual cycle. You might also want to complement this with other monitoring methods such as tracking your basal body temperature and your cervical mucus.
If you think about it, you’re technically at “week 1” with every menstrual period that you have. The above is therefore something that you’ll have to go through repeatedly pretty much every month of your fertile years!
Seldom is there a woman who looks forward to a period, except perhaps when she really wants to confirm that she is not pregnant! But since it’s a reality that most of us have to deal with, it’s important that we take good care of ourselves during this challenging time of the month.