Menstrual cycle
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The menstrual cycle is the normal development of a young woman who is entering her child bearing years. Physically, a woman is capable of bearing children anywhere from the age of nine to fifteen, although some young women do not experience their first menses until 17 or 18. The first menstrual cycle is often unrecognizable to a girl, as it tends to be very light and very short. Emotionally, women are typically not ready to deal with a baby despite their body’s ability to conceive.

The menstrual cycle is broken down into 5 phases which recurs over a period of approximately 28 days. Most women develop their own set standard as far as timing and other menstrual issues are concerned, and no woman can use her menstrual cycle as a calendar. It is possible to get pregnant from sexual intercourse during menstruation.


Generally speaking, days 1 through 4 are considered the menstrual phase. The menstrual phase occurs when a woman releases blood from her vaginal opening as an indication she has not become pregnant. Most women learn to monitor their menstrual cycle in some fashion to indicate pregnancy especially when they are trying to conceive or trying not to conceive a baby. Menstruation lasts anywhere from 2 to 7 days and is the body’s natural way of cleansing the uterus of the lining of the uterine wall which would have held a fertilized egg. The unfertilized egg also discharges from the woman’s body, but is microscopic and can not be seen.
Menstrual cycle
Image: Menstrual Cycle

The second phase is typically called the follicular or proliferative phase and occurs generally between days 5 and 13. This is the phase where the woman’s body is in a preparatory stage, as hormones increase and sends a signal to the body, particularly the follicles known as ovarian follicles, are competing with each other and are ready to develop into a nest for a fertilized egg. The woman typically experiences no symptoms at this stage.

Ovulation is said to occur on day 14, but women vary so much that ovulation can occur during any phase, although ovulation is still considered a phase of its own. Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary, which will then travel down the fallopian tube in hopes of meeting fertile sperm. Ovulation can take as long as 48 hours, and some women claim to feel a particular sensation or pain associated with ovulation, although few women support this.

The luteal phase (or secretory phase) is said to happen between days 15 and 26. This is the body’s preparatory phase for the uterus’ acceptance of a fertilized egg. Progesterone is produced while the egg spends its time multiplying in anticipation of a healthy sperm to fertilize the egg. This phase is vital to maintaining a pregnancy should a healthy sperm fertilize an egg.

The final phase, the ischemic phase, is associated with the death of the egg and the preparation for the egg and the thickened uterine lining to exit the body via a menstrual period. This allows for the cycle to start anew once menses has been completed.


Most women find they have natural and unnatural menses in accordance with their own bodies. While some women may be very heavy for the first few days, other women may be able to detect potential abnormalities in the uterus through heavy bleeding. It is considered normal for a woman to lose anywhere from 10 to 80 milliliters of blood during menstruation, although some women routinely lose less and others routinely lose more.

Most women become accustomed to cramping and discomfort during their menstrual periods, although severe cramping can be a sign of abnormal menses. Prolonged bleeding, or bleeding very heavily are also considered to be warning signs of a potential problem with the reproductive system.

Reproductive health in women requires annual visits to a gynecologist, where a pelvic examination and tests for specific viruses can be determined before they create problems which can lead to sterility, cancer, and death. These annual visits are usually scheduled one a young woman begins having a monthly period and should continue through menopause, the cessation of the monthly menses and the end of childbearing years. A gynecologist should be seen whenever there is any indication that something is not normal for a particular woman’s body.
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