Menstrual period: start of the cycle

You can get pregnant each month on particular days of your cycle. Your cycle starts on the first day you lose blood from your vagina. This is called the menstrual period.

Your cycle lasts about 28 days.

  • Some women have a shorter cycle and others a longer one.
  • The cycle lasts between 25 and 35 days.
  • Some women have an irregular cycle. Every month, their cycle differs in length.
  • The length of a woman’s cycle can change during her lifetime. During puberty, the cycle is often more irregular.
Woman standing. The focus is on the internal sexual organs.
Woman standing. The focus is on the internal sexual organs.
Menstrual period: start of the cycle
Menstrual period: start of the cycle

Ovulation

About 14 days before the start of your next cycle, ovulation takes place. This is when the egg cell leaves the ovary.

After ovulation, the egg cell is transported to the uterus. About 4 to 5 days after ovulation, the egg cell arrives in the uterus. The uterus gets ready for implantation of the egg cell.

Ovulation: a ripe egg cell leaves the ovary
Ovulation: a ripe egg cell leaves the ovary
Transportation of the ripe egg cell to the uterus
Transportation of the ripe egg cell to the uterus

Fertilization of an egg cell

You can get pregnant if a sperm cell fertilizes the egg cell. This mostly happens through sexual intercourse with a man. When a man ejaculates, sperm cells enter your vagina. You get pregnant if:

  • One sperm cell enters the egg cell and fertilizes it, and;
  • the fertilized egg cell is able to implant in the mucous membrane of the uterus and start to grow there.

Before he ejaculates, a man may already lose a bit of fluid that might contain sperm cells. De penis terugtrekken voordat de man een zaadlozing krijgt, is daarom een less reliable method of contraception.

If you are pregnant, you do not have menstrual periods. However, some women may lose some blood in the first months of pregnancy.

You can get pregnant around 6 days each month. The egg cell lives for 1 day and a sperm cell lives for 5 days. You are fertile for about 5 days before ovulation and 1 day after ovulation. In the following days, up to the days before your next ovulation, you are not fertile.

A man ejaculates inside the woman’s vagina. The sperm cells swim towards the ripe egg cell.
A man ejaculates inside the woman’s vagina. The sperm cells swim towards the ripe egg cell.
Fertilization: one sperm cell enters the egg cell and fertilizes it.
Fertilization: one sperm cell enters the egg cell and fertilizes it.
Implantation of the fertilized egg cell in the mucous membrane of the uterus
Implantation of the fertilized egg cell in the mucous membrane of the uterus

Menstrual period: not pregnant

If the egg is not fertilized, the uterus will expel the egg and the mucous membrane. You have your menstrual period: blood leaves your body through your vagina. The menstrual period lasts 3 to 7 days. A new cycle starts at that moment.

Menstrual period: the egg is not fertilized. A new cycle starts.

Contraception

If you do not have a desire to have children at the moment, use contraception.

More information or help needed?

Family doctor
You can talk to a family doctor about almost every intimate issue. If necessary the family doctor can refer you to a specialised health professional. Find a family doctor in your neighbourhood:
Wijkgezondheidscentrum
You can visit a family doctor in a community health centre. Other care professionals such as nurses and social workers also work at community health centres. Care is provided free of charge. Find a community health centre in your neighbourhood:
CAW - Centrum Algemeen Welzijn
Centre for general well-being - Help with all kinds of issues: a difficult relationship, medical, financial, administrative, legal or material problems, family problems,... CAWs also provide assistance to victims of violence and abuse. Find a CAW in your neighbourhood:
Expertisecentrum Kraamzorg Amerijtje
Information about a desire to have children, pregnancy, delivery, maternity care, breast-feeding and parenthood.
070 22 23 54
Expertisecentrum Kraamzorg De Bakermat
Information about a desire to have children, pregnancy, delivery, maternity care, breast-feeding and parenthood.
016 20 77 40
Expertisecentrum Kraamzorg De Kraamvogel
Information about a desire to have children, pregnancy, delivery, maternity care, breast-feeding and parenthood.
03 238 11 00
Expertisecentrum Kraamzorg De Wieg
Information about a desire to have children, pregnancy, delivery, maternity care, breast-feeding and parenthood.
0473 45 14 38, 050 33 02 70
Expertisecentrum Kraamzorg Kraamkaravaan
Information about a desire to have children, pregnancy, delivery, maternity care, breast-feeding and parenthood.
09 333 57 60
Expertisecentrum Kraamzorg Volle maan
Information about a desire to have children, pregnancy, delivery, maternity care, breast-feeding and parenthood.
02 229 25 58, 0478 88 11 86
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