Your answers to sexual and reproductive
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a woman's body changes during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a natural process that involves big
changes in a woman's body. It's different for everyone. Some women
have long, difficult, uncomfortable pregnancies that change their
daily lives right from the start. Others have fairly easy pregnancies
and their daily routines may not change until the last few weeks
Most women experience emotional shifts and mood
swings during pregnancy. It's natural to feel doubt, anxiety, and
fear about pregnancy and childbirth, as well as happiness, excitement,
and anticipation. Some women find that people (including their boyfriend,
partner, husband, family, and even strangers) treat them differently
because they're pregnant. Some women also are more or less interested
in sex during pregnancy. Pregnant women should be sure to use a
condom when having sex — exposure to a sexually transmitted infection
can have a devastating effect on a developing fetus.
As soon as a woman thinks she is pregnant, she
should visit a health care provider right away to learn more about
what to expect from pregnancy and how to care for herself and her
developing fetus. Women who smoke, drink, or take drugs should should
stop immediately — tobacco, alcohol, and drugs can prevent a fetus
Pregnancy typically lasts 40 weeks (about 9 months).
That time is divided into three sections called trimesters (three-month
periods), during which different things happen to a woman's body
and to the fetus. Below is a list of some of the normal things a
pregnant woman may experience during each trimester. If you are
pregnant you may or may not experience the changes described here.
They may happen earlier or later than they appear on this list,
and some may continue throughout the pregnancy.
The First Trimester (Weeks
During the first trimester, a woman's body goes
through many changes so that it can accommodate the growth and development
of the fetus.
• Menstruation stops or becomes very light.
• Breasts become larger.
• The volume of blood circulating doubles.
• The uterus enlarges to about three times its normal size.
• "Morning sickness" occurs. Nausea and sometimes vomiting
occur in many pregnant women. Don't be fooled by the name. Morning
sickness can happen any time of day. It may help to eat small meals
throughout the day, snack on crackers or toast, or drink juice or
• Many women experience fatigue.
• Some women have bleeding at the time of a missed period during
the first trimester.
• Constipation and heartburn are common.
The Second Trimester (Weeks 13-26)
The second trimester is often comfortable for the
woman, as the discomforts felt in the first trimester have passed.
It's during this time that other people can start to notice the
pregnancy. Lots of women take on the "radiant glow" of
pregnancy — caused not only by excitement but by an increased level
of hormones that affects the skin.
• Water retention that causes swelling of the feet and ankles. (This
is called edema).
• A woman can feel the fetus moving.
• Nosebleeds and nasal congestion.
• Breast enlargement and discharge.
• Hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
• Heartburn, indigestion, and constipation.
The Third Trimester (Weeks 27-40)
During this period, the shape of the abdomen changes
a few weeks before the onset of labor as the fetus drops towards
the opening of the pelvis.
• Movement of the fetus can be seen from the outside.
• The navel pushes out.
• Some women experience backaches.
• In order to accommodate the weight of the fetus women tend to
• Finally, labor and delivery!
How does pregnancy happen?
It’s basic biology. During sexual intercourse, a man ejaculates
semen into a woman’s vagina. Semen is a white, sticky fluid that
contains sperm, which can fertilize a female’s egg. The sperm swim
through the female’s cervix and uterus, into her fallopian tubes,
where eggs are released from her ovaries. If she has recently ovulated,
or released an egg, then the sperm can swim into the egg and start
a pregnancy. Ovulation happens once a month.
An egg can live and be fertilized for about 24 to 36 hours. Sperm
can live for up to five days. That means a couple can have intercourse
on Saturday. The girl could ovulate on Wednesday, and the sperm
could find an egg on Thursday.
Once the sperm and egg connect, its called a blastocyst.
The blastocyst travels along the fallopian tube, dividing and changing
as it goes, and eventually lands in the uterus.
The lining of the uterus is full of blood and tissue. This nutrient-rich
lining gives the blastocyst something to attach to. Once that happens,
the pregnancy has taken root. The blastocyst becomes a mass of cells
that divide and develop into an embryo. The embryo, in turn, becomes
a fetus over the next nine months.If egg
and sperm fail to connect, the egg dies. With no pregnancy, the
lining of the uterus disintegrates. This lining becomes a female’s
period or menstruation.
What are some common signs and symptoms of pregnancy?
The first clue is usually a missed or especially light period. Other
signs are breast soreness or tenderness, having to urinate (pee)
more often, feeling really tired, feeling nauseous and throwing
up. Any of these signs can start happening as early as two weeks
after conception. But, they can take longer to show up. And some
women never experience any of these things, while others get them
all. Every pregnancy is different.
But remember, many signs of pregnancy are a lot like the things
you’d feel before getting your period. Or, other health problems
could be causing you to feel nauseous, for example. So, if you think
you’re pregnant, get a pregnancy test. You can go to a clinic or
use a home test kit, available at drugstores.
asked questions about pregnancy
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