Pregnancy is a very challenging period in a woman’s life. The body undergoes numerous changes and adjustments that are geared towards making sure that everything that happens in the woman’s body essentially protects the budding life inside the womb. All these changes are inevitable, and the only thing that can be done to prepare for the unfolding of this miracle is to have a better grasp of the specific changes that are happening, especially in the reproductive system and to the menstrual cycle.
The Purpose of the Menstrual Cycle
Menstruation commences for one sole purpose: to stimulate the ovaries to produce viable eggs that can be fertilized and can grow and develop to become a fetus. The survival of every living organism is dependent on two things: the ability to adapt to outside changes and the ability to reproduce. The responsibility of bearing and rearing the offspring before it is ready for birth has been given to the female species.
Since the menstrual cycle starts early, probably years or decades before a woman decides to marry and try to have a baby, it is easy to forget that menstruation is just a means to an end. The moment that a fertilized egg is formed, menstruation will cease because the goal has been achieved. It will only commence once the mother gives birth and the body is ready to undergo the entire process again.
Interrupted Menstrual Processes
The most affected portion of the menstrual cycle when pregnancy ensues is the corpus luteum. To backtrack, the corpus luteum is the residue of the follicle that originally contained the egg cell that was released during the ovulation phase. If no fertilization occurs, the corpus luteum loses its purpose and atrophies; this forms the menstrual fluid that is secreted once the menstrual cycle resets. When fertilization occurs, however, a hormone known as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is released from the fertilized egg. It preserves the corpus luteum, and this informs the corresponding glands in the body that pregnancy will commence.
Link between the Luteinizing Hormone and HCG
Further analysis of the menstrual cycle points to the role of the luteinizing hormone in the transformation that the dominant follicle undergoes to become the corpus luteum. This change occurs in anticipation of the possible union that will occur between an egg cell and a sperm cell. Once fertilization is successful, HCG takes over the role of the luteinizing hormone in preserving the corpus luteum and maintaining the consistent production of progesterone and estrogen. These hormones, in turn, play a major role in ensuring that the body undergoes all the necessary changes, making way for the implantation of the fetus in the uterine wall and its gradual development and growth.
Preparing for Other Major Changes
Amenorrhea, or the ceasing of the menstrual cycle, is just the start. In addition, this could be the easiest change that a pregnant woman would undergo. As hormone levels increase and peak, especially during the third month of pregnancy, a pregnant woman must be ready to deal with morning sickness, the gradual expansion of the abdomen and pelvic area, and the inevitable process of giving birth.
Menstruation and pregnancy are interrelated processes. HCG is the primary hormone that ensures a smooth transition from having monthly menstrual cycles to preparing the body for the changes that will unfold in the months to come. Within the first three months, this hormone plays a crucial role in adjusting the processes that a woman’s body has been accustomed to, in order to ensure that the fetus is protected and will be able to grow and develop normally.