All content within this page has been reviewed and endorsed by
Dr Tariq Miskry, Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician
Each month, your reproductive system repeats a regular pattern of events, all controlled by hormones. This is your menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle is defined as the time from the first day of a woman’s period to the first day of her next period.
The menstrual cycle starts from the first day of a woman’s period to the first day of her next period. The average cycle is 28 days, but it can last from 21 to 35 days and still be normal.
If you have a short cycle, you may have a period more often than once a month and more than 12 times a year. If your cycle lasts longer, you will have fewer periods in a year.
Most periods last from 3 to 5 days, but anywhere from 2 to 7 days is normal.
The average amount of blood lost during a period is 30-40ml, with 9 out of 10 women losing less than 80ml.
If you think you’re losing a lot of blood, you might want to read our advice on heavy bleeding.
An egg matures in an ovary, is released into a fallopian tube and finally travels to the uterus (womb). Hormone levels rise and help prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilised, and the woman is not pregnant, then the lining is not needed and is shed. It is this shedding of the uterine lining that is called your period.
A normal menstrual cycle has four phases:
The most fertile time of the cycle is during ovulation. If you have regular 28-day cycles, ovulation usually occurs on day 14. However, women have different cycle lengths. In general, ovulation occurs 11 to 16 days before your upcoming period.
Keep a monthly calculator of your period and other symptoms and you’ll get to recognise when you’re ovulating and be able to anticipate your period.
This cycle repeats itself every month, until a woman reaches menopause.
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Over the course of a lifetime, you release about 400 eggs in their mature form.
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