Why Do Women Get Periods Or Menstrual Cycles?
HER Smart Choice Women’s Health Center Educational Series Presents ‘Why Do Women Get Periods Or Menstrual Cycles?’
Do you know when your last menstrual period began or how long it lasted? If not, it might be time to start paying attention.
Tracking your menstrual cycles can help you understand what’s normal for you, time ovulation and identify important changes, such as a missed periods or unpredictable menstrual bleeding.
The menstrual cycle is the monthly series of changes a woman’s body goes through in preparation for the possibility of pregnancy. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg, a process called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy.
If ovulation takes place and the egg isn’t fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a menstrual period.
The normal menstrual cycle is a tightly coordinated cycle of stimulatory and inhibitory effects that results in the release of a single mature oocyte from a pool of hundreds of thousands of primordial oocytes. Despite variations worldwide and within the U.S. population, median age at menarche has remained relatively stable, between 12 and 13 years, across well-nourished populations in developed countries.
A variety of factors contribute to the regulation of this process, including hormones and paracrine and autocrine factors that are still being identified.
The average adult menstrual cycle lasts 28 to 35 days, with approximately 14 to 21 days in the follicular phase and 14 days in the luteal phase.
There is relatively little cycle variability among women between the ages of 20 and 40 years.
In comparison, there is significantly more cycle variability for the first five to seven years after menarche and for the last 10 years before cessation of menses.
Your menstrual cycle might be regular, about the same length every month, or somewhat irregular, and your period might be light or heavy, painful or pain-free, long or short, and still be considered normal.
Within a broad range, “normal” is what’s normal for you. To find out what’s normal for you, start keeping a record of your menstrual cycle on a calendar or your smartphone.
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