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How Does Pregnancy Happen?

It’s normal to have questions if you suspect you might be pregnant. You may be experiencing one or more symptoms that are typically associated with pregnancy. Understandably, there may be a variety of emotions connected to your situation. There may be frustration and a little bit of confusion. How does pregnancy even happen? Perhaps you thought you had taken preventive steps – how can you be pregnant? Pregnancy can seem like a complicated event. With so many questions on your mind, where can you go for answers?

Are you wondering if you may be pregnant? You deserve easy access to reliable information and accurate results. Avenue Women’s Center has been a trusted resource for women in DuPage County since 1981. We offer free, medical-grade pregnancy tests at each of our centers. These reliable tests are accurate just ten days after possible conception. Afterward, our caring staff will meet with you and answer any pregnancy-related questions. All of our services are free and geared toward helping you move forward with a plan.

Contact us today to receive confidential care and support at one of our six locations in Darien, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn / Lombard, Naperville, West Chicago, Wood Dale, Illinois!

How Do Women Get Pregnant?  

Pregnancy is a process that occurs in several steps.

Microscopic cells called sperm mix with other bodily fluids to create semen. During ejaculation, millions of sperm cells are released. Pregnancy can still occur even if only one of these sperm cells meets an egg.

Eggs live in the female ovaries. The same hormones controlling your menstrual cycle cause your eggs to mature each month. These hormones also make your uterus thick and spongy. This prepares your body for pregnancy. When an egg matures, it’s ready for fertilization.

Halfway through your menstrual cycle, a mature egg leaves the ovary. This is typically referred to as ovulation. When this happens, the egg travels toward your uterus through the fallopian tube. The egg usually remains there for about 12-24 hours to wait for any sperm cells.

If semen gets into your vagina, sperm cells can enter in search of an egg. Sperm cells typically have up to six days to locate an egg before dying. After the sperm finds an egg, the fertilized egg moves down to the fallopian tube toward the uterus. The egg divides into more and more cells as it grows. Eventually, a blastocyst is formed about 3-4 days after fertilization.

The blastocyst remains in the uterus for 2-3 days. The next stage of pregnancy typically begins when the blastocyst attaches to the lining of your uterus. This process is called implantation.

Implantation may start six days after fertilization, and it can take 3-4 days to complete. An embryo may develop from the cells inside the blastocyst. The placenta develops from the cells outside of it. 

What Are Some Early Pregnancy Symptoms?

You may have noticed that your periods have stopped. It’s possible that this is a sign that you’re pregnant. When a fertilized egg implants, a pregnancy hormone is released. The hormone prevents the lining of your uterus from shedding which stops your menstrual cycle.

Some women may detect pregnancy symptoms right away. For some women, a missed period or other signs are not abnormal. So they may not know they’re pregnant right away.

Possible signs of pregnancy may include:

  • Missed Period
  • Swollen or Tender Breasts
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Feeling Tired
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Frequent Urination

It can be easy to confuse some of these signs with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). If you suspect you’re pregnant, take a pregnancy test to find out for sure. Many factors can influence the results of home pregnancy tests. So, you may want to take one through a healthcare provider or a first-step options clinic.

What Is “Gestational Age”?

This refers to how far along into a pregnancy you are. Gestational age is usually counted by starting with the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP). Calculating gestational age can sometimes be confusing.

LMP measures pregnancy from your last period – this may be a few weeks before you were actually pregnant. It’s normal for women to not remember the exact date of their last period. This is okay. It’s still possible to figure out how far along you are and apply this information to your pregnancy decision.

An ultrasound exam can accurately measure your pregnancy’s gestational age. It can also detect potential early complications such as a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. As soon as you confirm that you’re pregnant, it’s recommended you schedule an ultrasound appointment right away. That way you can learn more about the pregnancy and receive updates about your health.

Pregnancy Next Steps

Your pregnancy-related questions are completely valid. Before you make a decision, it’s a good idea to clarify any confusion you may have. Seeking support from an informed resource can connect you with the answers you need. The more questions you have cleared up, the more confidence you can feel about making a decision.

Are you still wondering how a pregnancy could have happened? Avenue Women’s Center can meet with you to make sure you have all of the accurate information you need. Confirm your results with a free, medical-grade test and a limited ultrasound exam. We’ll meet with you in a nonjudgmental environment to discuss your options with you. We are here to reduce any stress by listening to your concerns and helping you work through them as you make your decision.

 Reach out today to learn more about your pregnancy and your options through a supportive resource!



  •  American Pregnancy Association. Week by Week. Retrieved from:
  • Mayo Clinic. Ultrasound. Retrieved from:

Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.