Implantation, Progesterone, hCG Tests, And The Luteal Phase: Part 3
We looked at how the body prepares for ovulation and conception in Part 1 of our conversation. We spoke about ovulation in Part 2 and tracked the egg down the fallopian tube to fertilization and conception. Now that we’ve reached week four of the cycle called the luteal phase. Let’s look at what’s happening in your body during this phase, including implantation and progesterone spike.
The days after ovulation make up the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. Because of the dominant position played by the corpus luteum, which is nothing more than the collapsed follicle from which the egg was released, this two-week period is known as the luteal phase. The task of the corpus luteum now is to flush out progesterone and “heat” the body and womb in preparation for conception and implantation of the embryo. The endometrium thickens and becomes more vascular due to progesterone, and the endometrial lining acts as a “warm cushion” to trap the descending blastocyst (fertilized egg).
Last but not least, progesterone instructs the brain to postpone menstruation or the shedding of the uterine lining. As we’ll see, the evolving embryo has its hormonal system to inform the body about its presence to prevent menstruation. It does so by instructing the body to keep producing progesterone. The hormone that the embryo produces is called Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). It is the same hormone you will detect with a pregnancy test and discover that you are pregnant.
The body and the Luteal Phase
Women with elevated progesterone levels may have sensitive breasts and nipples. Surprisingly, this is also an early sign of successful conception. If you’re charting your fertility and know where you are on your period, you should rule out post-ovulation progesterone as a cause of early tenderness. However, it may be an early pregnancy symptom if tenderness persists or worsens when you don’t usually have this sensitivity. PMS conditions such as irritability, moodiness, and others may be exacerbated by progesterone.
Your cervical mucus will also change in volume, colour, and consistency after ovulation. The amount of mucus produced will most likely decrease (some women might even feel dryness), or the colour/texture will change from transparent-stretchy to a white or yellow hue that is much more oily and firm. Of course, various cervical mucus forms can occur after ovulation and during the first part of the luteal process.
After fertilization, the egg undergoes some modifications, as we saw in Part 2. (i.e., differentiation, becoming-blastocyst). The zona pellucida, which once preserved the developing embryo, now has no purpose, and the blastocyst releases a substance to dissolve it. The blastocyst leaves the zona pellucida and becomes a free-floating body inside the womb at this stage.
Implantation Phase Of Conception
It’s been almost a week after ovulation and conception. The embryo is ready to attach with the mother-to-be because progesterone levels are high. If all goes according to plan, the embryo will now land inside the endometrium and bind to the uterus’s wall. This is known as implantation because it used to be the first moment of conception when the blastocyst becomes the embryo.
During the implantation phase, cells on the blastocyst’s surface contact the endometrial lining and begin to chemically open a gap inside the lining where the fertilized egg may attach. The blastocyst (now called the embryo) nestles within the uterine lining as a fold or area in the endometrium is formed. This occurrence could result in certain symptoms, like implantation bleeding, which could be the first symptom of pregnancy.
Light spotting that appears during the implantation procedure is referred to as implantation bleeding. The blood would not be as red as during your period but will have either a pinkish or brownish hue. Because not all women will undergo this process, the absence of implantation bleeding does not rule out pregnancy.
How soon can I take a pregnancy test?
This is the moment we’ve all been looking for! Breast tenderness can now be attributed to naturally occurring progesterone levels, regardless of pregnancy. While implantation spotting is a possibility, it is not a requirement. So now we wait until we will start checking for pregnancy using a highly sensitive home pregnancy test.
When does Implantation happen?
Since implantation usually happens six to twelve days after ovulation – and pregnancy testing shouldn’t begin until after implantation – using pregnancy tests during the week after ovulation is usually a waste of money. But before we get into when we should take a pregnancy test, let’s look at how early pregnancy tests work and how they relate to what’s going on in your body.
Implantation and placentation
The fetus begins to burrow into the endometrium and its fertile matrix of vascular-rich tissue after implantation. The embryo forms the chorion, which is the inner layer of the developing placenta, around itself at this time. The chorion’s function is to bind the embryo to the life-giving womb by tapping into blood vessels in the endometrium that will nourish the fetus during your 9-month pregnancy. The placenta, the intermediate zone between mother and fetus where nutrients are ushered in, and waste products are eliminated, will develop around the chorion and embryo until this vital connection is established. The bubble-like amnion grows around the embryo with the embryonic placenta to cover and nourish the fetus during birth, maintaining the fetus in supportive amniotic fluids that avoid fetal tissue dehydration and alleviate any potentially harmful strain inside the womb.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
The fetus is ready to remind the mom to shut down the menstrual cycle – thanks to the growth of placental tissues. This crucial message is delivered through hormonal signals and stimuli, as have all previous bodily messages. In this case, the placenta secretes an agent known as hCG, or Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, the hormone detected by Fertility2Family’s easy home pregnancy kits. As a result, hCG is now present in your system, allowing your corpus luteum to continue pumping out progesterone and stopping menstruation.
How do pregnancy tests work
So, after all of this talk about hCG, we’re only about a week after ovulation. We now know that the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is linked to placenta development. hCG is already flooding the body, and during the first few weeks of conception, the level of hCG doubles almost every day. You should start testing for pregnancy with higher sensitivity pregnancy tests seven to ten days after ovulation. While early detection of pregnancy tests is beneficial, a negative outcome should not indicate that pregnancy was not accomplished. Fertility2Family pregnancy test strips are affordable and easy to use. You can use these and test with them every day if you want!
Now that you are pregnant, let’s see how your pregnancy test results may vary over time. Let’s choose a random day – how about 10 DPO or ten days after ovulation? You’ve now awoken and collected your first-morning urine, dipped your early pregnancy test in the sample.
The control line appears nearly instantly, and a test line appears slowly but steadily at the threshold of vision. After three minutes, you can see the first test colour band, though faintly. It’s visible at five minutes, the test’s total response period – a small but distinct colour band in the test area of the pregnancy strip! With subsequent follow-up checks, as hCG progresses in your body, this test line should deepen and get bolder over the next few days.
Now that we have talked about the implantation and early stages of your pregnancy, it is time to move on and discuss the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy. We will continue our discussion on this and fetal development in part four of this series of blogs.
Fertility2Family Five Part series
Part One: Ovulation To Early Pregnancy A Week By Week Cycle
Part Two: Ovulation to Conception and Fertilization of the Ovum
Part Three: Implantation, Progesterone, hCG Tests, & the Luteal Phase
Part Four: Pregnancy Symptoms, Morning Sickness & Fatigue
Part Five: First Trimester Pregnancy Signs