slideshow Home About Us Healthcare Providers MamaSana.org
This site Web
#
Women's Health Pregnancy After pregnancy Baby's Care & Development Infant Safe Sleep/SIDS Child Health Insurance Medical Home Publications Volunteer Opportunites Donate to Us

Women's Health
Family Planning

Before Birth Control ... Understanding Your Body

Diagram of female reproductive system

Vagina: where the penis enters during sex and from where the baby exits during birth.
Uterus: a hollow muscle in the shape of a pear where the baby grows during pregnancy.
Cervix: the base of the uterus and the part that opens or dilates during childbirth to allow the baby to come out during childbirth.
Ovaries: organs at the sides of the uterus that produce eggs.
Fallopian tubes: connect the ovaries with the uterus and through which the egg travels to the uterus.

Diagram of menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle lasts an average of 28 days (it can last more or less). To know the length of your cycle, count from the first day of your period in one month to the first day of your period the next month.

Hormones are chemical substances in the body that cause different changes to the body, including the following during the menstrual cycle:

  1. The cycle starts with the bleeding (menstruation) which lasts two to seven day.
  2. The ovary prepares to release an egg.
  3. An egg is released from the ovary around day 14, it could be before or after that.
  4. This egg travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus.
  5. At the same time, a layer of tissue forms and thickens on the wall of the uterus.
  6. If the egg does not join with a sperm, it starts to disintegrate together with the layer of tissue and it leaves the body through the vagina. This is menstruation.

Diagram of an egg and sperm

When a man ejaculates during sex, the semen with sperm leaves the man's penis and enters the woman's body through the vagina. Some semen may still enter the vagina even if the man ejaculates outside of the vagina.

If an egg has been released by the ovaries (ovulation), it can join with the man's sperm. This is called fertilization. Pregnancy starts when a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus.

Important: sperm can live inside a woman for up to five days. This means that if a woman has not ovulated when she has sex, she could still get pregnant in the next few days.

 

Other Links

North Carolina

National

For more health information, search MedlinePlus

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

Back to top

Last updated: May 2013

 
printer
bookmark

Text4baby link

More Info

My Health Journal
This publication will help you keep all of your health information updated and in one place. You can download My Health Journal in word format to your computer for personal use.
Opens in new window Word format (for download)
Opens in new window PDF version (3.98 MB)*
Opens in new window Plain text version

Taking Care of Me
A new baby may mean little time for mom to care for herself. This self-help guide gives postpartum women practical health tips on emotional health, stress, nutrition, exercise, family planning and reproductive health, and alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Opens in new window Plain text version

Private Matters
This handy little card helps a woman chart her menstrual cycle for a year
Opens in new window PDF version (61 KB)*
Opens in new window Plain text version

Oh Baby! We want to keep you safe from secondhand smoke!
Tips for dealing with secondhand smoke
Opens in new window PDF version (247 KB)*
Opens in new window Plain text version

Each item opens in a new browser window Opens in new window.

*If the PDF download time is too slow, try the plain text version. If your computer can't open the PDF version, download Opens in new windowa FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader.

| About this site | Accessibility | Privacy policy
© 1999-2014 N.C. Healthy Start Foundation