A woman is on her menstrual cycle for a major chunk of her lifetime. This 28-days-cycle has your reproductive system working 24*7, 365 days, from menarche till menopause.
You should be familiar with those unpredictable burst outs, licking the last bit of pie off your fingers, sudden burn outs, a couple of hot flashes, and of course the lingering discomfort in your abdomen. Have you thought how and why these strange events occur to you?
Menstrual cycle executes a clock-like work in your body and often the female hormones estrogen and progesterone gets blamed for it. It is true to an extent, but the functions involved in your menstrual cycle also contribute to the above mentioned actions.
It is significant to be aware if your periods are normal, else it could lead to complications. To be sure of the normalcy of your periods you should know how your cycle works. Here is a simple understanding of the working of menstrual cycle.
1st Phase (1-5 days) – Chumming Time
The stage when blood (uterus lining) is pushed out from the uterus of a woman through her vagina. It usually stretches from three to five days.
Matured egg developed in one of the ovaries breaks apart, and as a result it is released along with uterus lining. This occurs as the matured egg was left unfertilized (when you fail to get pregnant).
During the process a chemical called prostaglandin is secreted in order to induce contractions to induce and ease the shedding of uterus lining. Too much prostaglandin can consequently increase the frequency of contractions causing abdominal cramps.
The level of estrogen and progesterone subside in this phase making you feel gloomy.
2nd Phase (6-13 days) – Nurturing Egg
This is the period where an egg is produced and nurtured (follicular phase).
A few eggs (one to three) begin to mature in one of the ovaries. Once it matures, the egg is loosened to be sucked up into the fallopian tube. It is then led to the uterus. Follicular growth stimulates the thickening of uterus lining preparing for pregnancy.
The levels of estrogen and progesterone rise in this nurturing stage. You may feel very active, energetic and pleasant during these days.
3rd Phase (14-15 days) – Fertilization Period
The right couple of days for you to conceive!
In this phase the egg is ready to be fertilized and a woman is said to be ovulating then. If fertilized by a sperm, it gets attached to the lining of the uterus which provides nourishment to the newly formed embryo.
Estrogen level will be dominant when you are ovulating and your sex drive is heightened during this period. The probability of conceiving is high within a day of ovulation.
It is good to be aware of your ovulation time to conceive or to avoid pregnancy.
4th Phase (16-28 days) – Get ready to Face the Most Sensitive days
A lot of hormonal fluctuations are experienced during this stage. Workout, eat healthy and stay away from bad habits particularly during this two-weeks-stretch.
This stage is known as the luteal phase wherein progesterone discharge is initiated. Subsequently it starts estrogen production.
Extra energy is consumed during the final week before periods and your tummy starts to grumble more than ever. Incorporate a healthy diet as it would reflect on your PMS and approaching periods.
Estrogen and progesterone levels drop as you approach your period date. This triggers your PMS. Cravings, headaches, bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, disturbed sleep and concentration, digestive disorders and mood swings, are all part and parcel prior to your periods.
Finally as a result of progesterone withdrawal the thickened uterine lining is expelled from the uterus. Thus starts your new menstrual cycle.
Every woman has a different cycle in tune with her body and its functions. Observe your cycle and you would sense even the tiny changes that take place in you physically and emotionally.
The better you know your menstrual cycle the better you can identify the anomalies associated with it.
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