This post was originally going to be about my first complete FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) cycle and all the charting and awesome that went along with it, but I'm CHANGING MY MIND. For now.
I'm changing my mind because something happened to a friend of mine that is not uncommon, and I realized that his situation is one of many in which a general knowledge of FAM can be incredibly useful. What happened, in a nutshell: He went on a couple of dates with a woman, the woman now claims to be "late". Needless to say, he is worried. This is an unfair advantage women have over men, to be able to dangle that fear of "maybe..." over his head. My goal with this post is to throw down some knowledge so that men can feel a little more security and control when faced with a situation like this.
Of course, before I get into this, I should clarify that I am not a doctor, a scientist (mad or otherwise), a veterinarian, an oceanographer, or whatever. I highly recommend reading up on FAM and lady cycles yourself, talking to a qualified professional, and all that jazz. Are we cool? Okay, on with the show.
HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION: Let's say you and a lady get all freaky. (For the duration of this post, I'm assuming you're a man.) Then later, said lady looks in your eyes and confesses that her period is late. Which generally indicates that she could be with child (that means pregnant).
Here's the key to everything I'm about to say next: If the amount of time elapsed between "sexy times" and the "I might be preggers" confession is less than two weeks, the odds are pretty darn good that she is not, in fact, havin' yo baby.
You may be asking yourself, "Okay, cool, but why, not-doctor-Jess?"
It all has to do with a little thing called the "Luteal phase".
HERE'S A PICTURE OF A MENSTRUAL CYCLE! It's not icky or anything.
Note the arrows at the top indicating the "Follicular phase" and the "Luteal phase". I'm not going to get into all the hormones and what they do, if you are interested you can do some further reading. A basic breakdown of what's going on here: Lady's just had her period at the start of the follicular phase (which we'll refer to from here on as FP). An egg pops out of one of her ovaries in a special new sack. It does its thing, and about halfway through the cycle, the egg pops out of its sack. This is ovulation.
A woman can only get pregnant when she is ovulating. Ovulation only lasts one or two days. The tricky part is that sperm can last in the woman's body for up to five days, but ONLY IF FERTILE CERVICAL FLUID IS PRESENT. Fertile cervical fluid is generally only present during days before ovulation. Once ovulation occurs, the egg disintegrates after twenty-four hours, and the fertile cervical fluid dries up.
We now enter the luteal phase (LP)! During the LP, there is typically no fertile cervical fluid present. This means any sperm that get in will die within hours. It also means there is no egg present, and that means, no way to make a baby.
Listen up, because this part's important: The FP can span any length of time, one week, twenty days, fifty days, a friggen' year, whatever. The LP, the time when it's virtually impossible for a woman to conceive, is always the same length of time. And it always occurs before a woman's period. It may vary in length between women, but it's typically about two weeks.
Another point of note is that even if she did get knocked up, if the LP is less than ten days, it's not enough time for the egg to implant, and it naturally aborts itself. Normally, twelve days are required for all the right conditions to occur to produce a baby. So it's pretty much impossible to tell if you are pregnant or not until your LP has extended past that 12 day mark.
So, if it's been less than two weeks since you guys did the nasty, and she's claiming a late period? She may be trying to scare tactic you into something. Use this information to be aware and informed. You probably now know more about what's going on in her body than she does.
*One final and very serious note: Everyone's circumstances are different, and this is not intended to diagnose anything, or determine pregnancy. If there's genuine concern, and you're in genuine trouble, seek the advice of a health professional.