All About the Female Menstrual Cycle

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Getting your period is one of the highlights of adolescence.Clap emoji

It’s a rite of passage into womanhood, as well as a sign of health and fertility.

But do you ever wonder why it happens? What exactly is going on inside your body that makes you menstruate?

Knowing what the female menstrual cycle is and how it works, can help you understand the changes you may notice in your body throughout the month and anticipate when you’re going to get your period.

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1

What exactly is the female menstrual cycle?

The female menstrual cycle is the monthly cycle of ovulation – i.e. releasing an egg from your ovaries – and the changes that occur in your uterus as a result.

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2

What controls the female menstrual cycle?

The female menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones (mainly estrogen and progesterone). Your brain sends messages to your ovaries to produce them.These two female hormones will then be produced in higher or lower levels and these changes in hormone levels will determine each phase of your cycle.

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How long does it last?

The average woman’s cycle lasts 28 days. But a normal menstrual cycle can be as short as 21 days and as long as 35 days.If yours is significantly shorter or longer, talk to a trusted adult or your doctor.When you first start menstruating, your cycle may be irregular, meaning it may skip a month here and there, and that’s okay. After a few cycles it should settle in to a more regular pattern.If it doesn’t, or if your cycle is significantly shorter or longer, talk to a trusted adult or your doctor.

Use our handy period tracker to calculate when your next period is due.

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The phases of the menstrual cycle

A lot happens during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Let’s break it down.

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  1. Menstruation

    A woman’s menstrual cycle starts on the first day of her period, aka menstruation. This is when the uterine lining (endometrium) is shed from the uterus through the vagina.Menstruation typically lasts 3 to 7 days. During this time, you’ll want to wear good sanitary protection, like Always Ultra. Always Ultra have an absorbent core that turns liquid into gel – and gel can’t leak – so you stay protected and confident.

  2. Pre-ovulation

    The pre-ovulation (or Follicular phase) is the moment when the ovaries start to prepare an egg to be released. It takes approximately two weeks for this egg to grow large enough to be released.

    The hormones that start getting released during this phase prompt your uterus to start thickening its lining, (also called the endometrium) so the egg can implant here.

    You may notice thicker vaginal discharge during this time and you may want to wear an Always Dailies pantyliner to protect your knickers that will give you a morning fresh feeling throughout the day.

  3. Ovulation

    Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from the ovary. It happens 14 days before the first day of your next period. That means, if your cycle is 28 days, it will happen on day 14.

    You may notice thicker vaginal discharge during this time and want to wear an Always Dailies pantyliner to protect your knickers and give you a morning fresh feeling throughout the day.

    If you have sex around the time you ovulate, and a sperm cell fertilizes the egg, then the egg can implant into the endometrium. You become pregnant and a baby will start to develop from the implanted egg.

  4. Pre-menstrual phase

    If the egg is not fertilized, the endometrium is no longer needed, so it starts to break down (it will leave your body in the form of menstrual fluid).

    This is what can cause cramps about a week before you get your period because your uterus contracts to shed the lining.

    You may also notice you start to feel a little more emotional than normal during this phase. Check out this article on PMS to learn more.

You may notice thicker vaginal discharge during this time and you may want to wear an Always Dailies pantyliner to protect your knickers that will give you a morning fresh feeling throughout the day.

Post It

That’s it! The female menstrual cycle keeps on repeating itself.

As your endometrium breaks down, and starts to leave your body through the vagina, you’ll start your next period – and go back to the start of your menstrual cycle.

Now you know how a woman’s cycle works. This means you can plan for your next period and better understand the changes you can experience like higher level of vaginal discharge and period pain.

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