The fertility cycle is broken into two parts. The first half of the fertility cycle is when the follicle stimulating hormone stimulates maturation of an egg. As the egg is maturing, estrogen levels rise causing the luteinizing hormone to increase. The luteinizing hormone forces the egg out of the follicle where maturation occurs.
When progesterone levels dive, the uterus gets the signal to start shedding that thicker layer. This shedding is a normal menstrual cycle. Shedding of the uterine lining typically lasts three to seven days, depending on the woman. Some women have menstrual cycles that last just three days and others last seven days or more. Once all the uterine lining is shed the menstrual cycle stops and the new fertility cycle begins.
After ovulation is called the luteal phase. The luteal phase typically lasts between 12 and 14 days. Some women have a short luteal phase lasting less than 12 days. If this is the case, the time frame for conception is shorter which could make conception difficult.
If the corpus luteum dies off before the 12 day mark after ovulation and conception has already occurred, there may not be sufficient progesterone to sustain the pregnancy. In this case a miscarriage could occur, but it may appear to be a heavier than normal menstrual cycle if a pregnancy test has not revealed pregnancy.
Understanding what happens after ovulation is important for women who are trying to conceive. During the 14 days after ovulation, the body is prepared for egg fertilization and implantation. The uterine lining is thick and estrogen and progesterone levels are peaked. If fertilization occurs after ovulation, HCG levels will start to increase and the uterine lining will not receive the signal to shed. Most women are about one to two weeks pregnant when they miss their first menstrual cycle though the pregnancy countdown is typically started from the last day of your last period.