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Menstrual Cycle: What Are The 4 Stages of the Menstrual Cycle

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All You Need to Know About Stages Of Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle is a natural occurrence. It is a complicated cycle governed by female hormones that results in recurrent bleeding (periods). The following are the four stages of the menstrual cycle:

  1. Menstruation
  2. The follicular phase
  3. Ovulation
  4. The luteal phase

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What is the menstrual cycle?

Your body gets ready for pregnancy throughout your menstrual cycle. When you are not pregnant, your hormones tell your uterus to lose its lining. This will be your period. When periods start then the menstrual cycle begins.

Menstruation is measured from the first day of a period to the first day of periods the next cycle. A menstrual cycle lasts 28 to 29 days on average, however, each woman's cycle is unique. Teenagers, for example, may have periods that last 45 days, but women in their 20s and 30s may have cycles that span 21 to 38 days.

Menarche is the name given to your first menstruation. The typical age for the first period in Western nations is 12 to 13, although it may begin as early as nine and as late as sixteen.

Menopause is the end of your menstrual cycle. Women in Australia enter menopause at an average age of 51 to 52. Some women may not achieve menopause until they are 60 years old.

Phases of Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle contains four distinct stages.

1. Periodic Menstruation

Menstruation is generally referred to as a period. When you menstruate, the lining of your uterus sheds and runs out of your vagina. Your menstruation comprises blood, mucus, and cells from the uterine lining. Menstruation lasts three to seven days on average.

To absorb your period, you may use sanitary pads, tampons, period underwear, or menstrual cups. Pads and tampons should be replaced regularly (ideally every three to four hours), and menstrual cups every eight to twelve hours.

2. The follicular period

The average duration of the follicular phase is 16 days. There is a wide range of possible durations, from 11 to 27 days, for a single cycle. A hormone is released by the pituitary gland in the brain to encourage the formation of follicles on the surface of an ovary. This may happen as early as day 10 of your cycle. During this stage, the lining of your uterus thickens in preparation for pregnancy.

3. Menstruation

Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from the ovary and travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus. This occurs roughly two weeks before your next period once a month. Ovulation may last anywhere between 16 and 32 hours.

It is possible to get pregnant five days before ovulation and on the day of ovulation, although it is more probable during the three days preceding and including ovulation. Once discharged, the egg may live for up to 24 hours. You may get pregnant if sperm reaches the egg at this period.

4. The luteal period

Cells in the ovary (the corpus luteum) produce progesterone and a trace of oestrogen after ovulation. This stimulates the uterine lining to thicken in preparation for pregnancy.

When a fertilised egg implants in the uterine lining, the corpus luteum continues to generate progesterone, which keeps the uterine lining thickened.

If no pregnancy occurs, the corpus luteum dies, progesterone levels fall, the uterine lining sheds and the period resumes.

There are 11–17 days during the luteal phase. The average duration is 14 days.

Common menstruation issues

Some of the most frequent menstruation issues are:

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) - Premenstrual hormonal events may cause a variety of negative effects in women at risk, including fluid retention, headaches, lethargy, and irritability. Treatment options 
  • Dysmenorrhoea - or painful periods - include exercise and dietary adjustments. Certain hormones are considered to cause the uterus to press harder than required to remove its lining. 
  • Heavy monthly bleeding (formerly known as menorrhagia) - if left untreated, this may cause anaemia. Treatment options include pain relievers and the oral contraceptive pill. 
  • Oral contraceptives and an intrauterine hormonal device (IUD) are two treatment choices for amenorrhoea or the lack of menstrual cycles. Except during puberty, pregnancy, nursing, and postmenopause, this is regarded as abnormal. Excessive activity and low or high body weight are two possible explanations.

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Things that affect the menstrual cycle:

  • Birth control pills - The birth control pill may cause your periods to be lighter and shorter. Some drugs can prevent you from getting a period at all.
  • Pregnancy - During pregnancy, your periods should cease. One of the most obvious signs of pregnancy is a lack of a menstrual cycle.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) - This hormonal imbalance hinders proper egg development in the ovaries - PCOS is associated with irregular menstrual cycles and missing periods.
  • Fibroids in the uterus These noncancerous uterine growths might cause your periods to be longer and heavier than normal.
  • Eating problems - Periods might stop if your menstrual cycle is disrupted by eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.

When should you visit your doctor?

If you are concerned about your period, see your doctor.

  • Your menstrual cycle shifts.
  • Your periods are becoming increasingly frequent (i.e. A tampon or pad change is necessary more often than every two hours.)
  • your cycles last more than eight days
  • Your period lasts for 21days.
  • Your menstrual cycles are more than two to three months apart.
  • Your symptoms are so terrible that they interfere with your everyday activities; you bleed between periods, and you haemorrhage after sexual contact.

Take Away

Each woman's menstrual cycle is unique. One person's normalcy is another person's abnormality.

It's important to get acquainted with your cycle, including when you receive your periods and how long they last. Watch for any changes and let your doctor know about them.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. When is the best time to get pregnant? 

You are most fertile during ovulation (the release of an egg from your ovaries), which normally happens 12 to 14 days before your next menstruation. You are most likely to get pregnant around this time of the month.

2. How do I calculate my menstrual cycle days? 

Count the days between your past few cycles to determine your menstrual cycle. Begin counting from your period's initial day to the day before your next period. After a few cycles, sum up the total number of days and divide it by the number of cycles.

3. Should I be worried if my period is irregular?

If you've always had somewhat irregular periods or are still in adolescence, you don't need to see a doctor. However, if your periods suddenly become irregular and you are under 45, you should visit a doctor. You get periods every 21 days or less often than every 35 days.

References:

  1. Tolga B. Mesen, MD* and Steven L. Young, MD, PhD, Jan 2015, Progesterone and the Luteal Phase
  2. Anne Marie Z. Jukic,1,* Clarice R. Weinberg,2 Donna D. Baird,1 and Allen J. Wilcox1, Life-Style and Reproductive Factors Associated with Follicular Phase Length.