A woman is expected have 450 menstrual cycles on average during her lifetime. It starts on the first day of her period and ends one day before the next period is due to start. So, ideally the menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days but it can vary from person to person, lasting anywhere between 20 to 40 days.
Any cycle that lasts for more than 6 weeks is considered to be unusual, and irregular periods are common among adolescent girls when they are stressed, or experiencing extreme emotions and weight changes. Women often look at this phase as a burden and some of them even consider the pain as a curse.
However, it is actually their lack of knowledge regarding menstruation that makes matters worse. Here’s a look at the different phases of menstrual cycle and how it works.
The Follicular Phase
This is the first stage of the cycle, in which a hormone called the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is released by the pituitary gland. This causes the immature egg-containing cells or follicles to develop in the ovary.
These cells produce oestrogen, a hormone that results in the lining of uterus (the endometrium) to become thick. This phase starts on the first day of the cycle and ends with ovulation.
The Ovulatory Phase
During the follicular phase, a rise in oestrogen levels leads to the release of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which makes you feel better and confident, making this the ideal time to go for job interviews and networking.
During this phase, the sex drive is also high, so one usually enjoys physical activities at this time.
The Luteal Phase
The follicle that released the egg during the ovulation transforms into a corpus luteum, a structure that produces progesterone, the pregnancy hormone. This leads to the thickening of the uterus as a step to make space for the fertilized egg to be implanted and to develop for the next nine months.
In case conception occurs, then it keeps on producing the hormone in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy. However, if the egg is not fertilized, the production stops in two weeks.
The drop in progesterone levels is the beginning of menstruation. It signifies the end of the opportunity for the egg to be fertilized and the beginning of the development of the next egg. The end of ovulation leads to the uterine lining to be shed, along with some blood.
The duration and intensity of this period differs from woman to woman and from cycle to cycle, but on average, it lasts for 4-6 days.