Menstrual Cycle is more than just your periods. Most of the women are unaware about the changes and processes taking place in their bodies during the cycle. Understanding how the process takes place is important as it will help you to understand how to get pregnant or how to avoid getting pregnant, to effectively manage any menstrual symptoms that you may experience and to identify any issues that may occur.
As the name suggests, menstrual cycle is the monthly series of changes a woman’s body undergoes in preparation for a potential pregnancy. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg — a process called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for a possible pregnancy. If the ovulation occurs and the egg isn't fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a menstrual period.
The duration of the menstrual cycle varies woman to woman, however it falls between 21 to 40 days, with an average duration of 28 days. The process can be explained in the following 3 phases:-
This is the first phase of the menstrual cycle which lasts for 1-14 days approximately. The first day of the period is also the first day of the cycle. One may experience heavy bleeding during the first few days and face a variety of symptoms such as, cramps, bloating, lower back pain and tender breasts.
Simultaneously, the ovaries are getting prepared to ovulate again. Then the pituitary gland releases a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which causes several follicles, each containing a single immature egg, to rise on the surface of the ovary. One of these follicles may develop and release an egg. The maturing follicle produces estrogen hormones which increases during the follicular phase and peaks shortly before ovulation. The menstrual flow has now ended, and the lining of the womb becomes thicker.
The following stage is the ovulatory phase in which the matured egg is released on the 14th day. It enters into the fallopian tube where fertilization may take place, if the sperm is present. The ovulation is the time when a woman may get pregnant. If the egg is not fertilized in 24 hours, it degenerates.
The final stage kick starts after the egg degenerates, the follicle seals over and this is called the corpus luteum. It releases progesterone. If fertilization has taken place, the corpus luteum continues to produce progesterone which prevents the endometrial lining from being shed. However, if fertilization has not taken place, the corpus luteum disintegrates which causes progesterone levels to drop and the lining of the womb sheds and leaves the body as a period. Women may experience PMS symptoms during this phase.
Therefore, a better understanding regarding your menstrual cycle will assist you in taking care of your body and its needs accordingly.