Your cycle explained
We've all asked ourselves at one point or another; why do I need to have my period every month?
The truth is that the menstrual cycle is pretty impressive!
By understanding your own cycle you can learn what days you’re most likely to become pregnant each month, better plan for your period, know when to expect mood and body changes, and so much more.
Here is a quick guide to your menstrual cycle so you can start feeling empowered and learn why it's so important to get to know your body.
Why do we have menstrual cycles anyway?
In short, the main purpose of the menstrual cycle is to give you the ability to reproduce. We often experience menstruation for the first time during puberty, which marks the beginning of our reproductive years as new hormones are released.
Your menstrual cycle can be broken down into a few main phases and each phase has a purpose, accompanied by certain symptoms that make it recognizable.
Average Cycle Length
The average cycle length is around 28 days long (although cycles can range from 21-40 days in length) and are counted from the first day of your period to the last day before the following period.
1. The Menstrual Phase (Days 1-7)
This phase begins on the first day that you experience bleeding. The first day of this menstrual phase also marks day one of the follicular phase (days 1-14) which is a process in which the ovaries begin to prepare an egg to be released for ovulation. Menstruation (or bleeding) on average lasts between 2-7 days.
2. Follicular Phase (Day 1-14)
From the start of your period (day 1) until ovulation, you're in the follicular phase. This phase is when the uterine lining has regenerated in preparation for pregnancy or receiving a fertilized egg. During this phase, the ovaries prepare the egg to be released into the uterus on day 14 (the day of ovulation) by increasing reproductive hormone production.
3. Ovulation (Mid Cycle)
Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube and commonly occurs around on Day 14, or the middle, of your cycle.
4. Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)
If the egg isn't fertilized, you will enter the luteal phase. Reproductive hormone levels drop during this phase resulting in the shedding of the uterus lining, also called the endometrium. After ovulation, this phase is when all those well-known PMS symptoms like bloating, irritability and mood swings can occur and sometimes stay until the end of your next period.
Your Cycle Made Simple
Tracking your cycle can be beneficial as finding out what phase you are in can help you treat symptoms, schedule plans according to your phase or prepare for pregnancy. The app Cycles breaks down the phases into the most influential moments of your cycle, in other words when you should expect PMS, your most fertile days and your period. All tracked in an easy to read, color coded calendar.
Did you know?
- Most of us have two ovaries that produce and develop eggs (released during ovulation)
- Only one egg is released per cycle (during ovulation)
- The womb (or uterus) is where the egg is released and fertilised if unprotected sex occurs during the most fertile days of your cycle
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