4 Stages of The Menstrual Cycle

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Introduction  

The menstrual cycle is a natural biological, and complex process controlled by many glands and hormones.

Menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase form the four phases of the menstrual cycle. Menstrual issues can happen to some women.

What is menstruation?  

Menstruation, a phase of the menstrual cycle, is usually described as periods. Uterine lining and blood, flow out of the vagina during periods.  

The first day of a woman’s period marks day 1 of the menstrual cycle. Women lose 20 to 90ml (1 to 5 tablespoons) of blood during their menstruation, which lasts between 3 and 7 days. Some women bleed more heavily than this.

What is the menstrual cycle?  

The menstrual cycle prepares the body for conception or pregnancy. When fertilisation (fusion of male and female gamete) doesn’t occur, the uterus sheds its lining. The period starts when this happens. The cycle restarts as soon as the menstruation begins.

The first day of the period to the first day of the subsequent period makes up one menstrual cycle. A menstrual cycle lasts 28 to 29 days on average. However, every woman’s cycle is unique. For instance, teenage girls’ periods may span 45 days, whereas those of women in their 20s and 30s may range from 21 to 38 days.

Menarche refers to the start of the menstrual cycle. The typical age for the first period in Western nations is between 12 and 13; it can also begin as early as nine years or as late as 16 years. Menopause occurs after the final period, which marks the cessation of periods or the end of reproductive life.

What happens during the menstrual cycle?  

Knowing about a woman’s internal reproductive organs is helpful in understanding the menstrual cycle.  

  • Ovaries, where eggs are stored, developed and released.
  • The uterus is where a fertilised egg implants and develops into a baby.
  • The Fallopian tubes, which are two tiny tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus.
  • The cervix, the opening from the vagina to the womb.
  • The vagina

Hormones in the body control the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Ovulation, or the development and release of an egg, occurs once per cycle in response to increased oestrogen levels. This starts to thicken the uterine lining.  

Progesterone, a hormone, assists the womb in getting ready for the implantation of an embryo during the second part of the cycle.

The egg travels down the fallopian tubes. When fertilisation or pregnancy doesn’t happen, the egg and the uterine lining sheds and leave the body as the menstrual flow (periods). The oestrogen and progesterone levels drop.

It takes 10 to 16 days from the release of an egg till the beginning of a period.

Ovulation  

The egg is released from the ovaries during ovulation. All of a woman’s eggs for a lifetime are present at birth.

As soon as she begins having periods, one egg develops and is discharged once every menstrual cycle.

Pregnancy occurs when a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg fuse and fertilise. For up to 7 days following sex, sperm can survive in the fallopian tubes.

Ovulation can occasionally result in the release of several eggs. Multiple pregnancies, such as twin pregnancies, are possible when more than one egg is fertilised.

Without ovulation, a woman cannot become pregnant. Some hormonal contraceptives, such as the contraceptive pill, the contraceptive patch, and the contraceptive injection, function by inhibiting ovulation.

Stages of the Menstrual cycle  

Menstruation

Menstruation is commonly known as periods. The uterine lining sheds and flows out of the vagina when a woman menstruates. The period removes blood, mucus and some uterine lining. Menstruation typically lasts three to seven days.

The follicular phase

The follicular phase, which lasts for 13 to 14 days and culminates in ovulation, begins on the first day of the period. The pituitary gland in the brain releases a hormone to promote the production of follicles on the surface of an ovary.  

Primarily, one follicle will develop into an egg. The process starts on day 10 of the menstrual cycle. The uterus’ lining thickens during this phase in preparation for pregnancy.

Ovulation  

After ovulation, a mature egg is released from an ovary and travels down a fallopian tube to the uterus. Normally, this occurs once every month, two weeks before the next period. A woman can ovulate for 16 to 32 hours.

Becoming pregnant on the day of ovulation and the five days prior is possible. But, the likelihood increases in the three days prior to ovulation.  

The egg has a maximum survival time of 24 hours after release. A woman could get pregnant during this period if sperm travels to the egg.

The luteal phase

The luteal phase starts on the fifteenth day and persists till the end of the cycle.  

During this phase,

  • The egg cell released during ovulation stays in the fallopian tube for 24 hours.  
  • The egg cell disintegrates if a sperm cell does not successfully fertilise it within that period.
  • By the end of the menstrual cycle, the hormone that causes the uterus to keep its endometrium decreases.  

The menstrual phase of the next cycle starts as a result.

How to track the menstrual cycle?  

Keeping track of the menstrual cycle prepares a woman for her periods.

One can record the dates of the periods in a journal or mark them in a calendar. With the improvement in technology, tracking the period or menstrual cycle is easier. There are mobile applications available which can be downloaded, and periods can be tracked.  

Most fertile day  

The time around ovulation is the only period of time when women can become pregnant.

Although the exact time of ovulation is difficult to determine, it takes place 10 to 16 days before the next period for most women.

Women with normal, 28-day cycles are most likely to be fertile on day 14 of their menstrual cycle. This isn’t correct for women whose periods are shorter or longer.  

Common menstrual issues  

Here are some common menstrual problems.

  • Premenstrual syndrome is a group of physiological and psychological symptoms that appear before a period.
  • Dysmenorrhoea is painful cramps during menstruation.
  • Amenorrhoea is the absence of periods.
  • Menorrhagia is excessive bleeding due to prolonged menstruation or heavy bleeding during a normal-length period.
  • Metrorrhagia is irregular bleeding. This usually occurs during the normal menstrual cycle.  
  • Dysmenorrhoea refers to light periods.
  • Oligomenorrhoea is infrequent periods.  

Conclusion  

The menstrual cycle is the sequence of changes occurring in the body to prepare it for pregnancy. One of the ovaries releases an egg every month, and the process is ovulation.  

The uterus prepares for pregnancy throughout these hormonal changes. The uterine lining sheds through the vagina if the released egg is not fertilised during ovulation. This is a menstrual cycle.  

Keeping track of the menstrual cycles is important. One can keep track of their ovulation and identify prominent changes, such as a missed period or unusual menstrual blood. While period irregularities are typically not harmful, they can occasionally be the result of other medical conditions.

FAQs  

What is the normal menstrual cycle?  

A normal menstrual cycle of women is about 28 days, while the length of the menstrual cycle varies for each individual.
 
Normal cycles range from 23 to 35 days in length. But, period days can be shorter or longer than that.

Why do periods change dates?  

Hormone changes might cause a small change in the date of the period each month.

How to calculate the menstrual cycle?  

The interval between the start of a woman’s period and the day before her subsequent period is known as the menstrual cycle.

How long can stress delay your period?  

The period may be a few days late due to stress, but for some people who endure significant chronic stress, it may be months before they experience their period.


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The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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