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The Menstrual Cycle

Every woman gets her period and whilst many know what this means, there are things you probably didn’t know.

For example, did you know that your period is actually part of your menstrual cycle? That’s right, there are really 4 different phases:

Phase 1: Menstruation

This is commonly known as your period and the first day is considered the start of your menstrual cycle. As you may already know, your period contains blood, endometrial cells (lining of your uterus) and mucus and is shed during this time which generally lasts 5 – 7 days each month.

Phase 2: Follicular Phase

During this phase (immediately after your period), your body begins preparing for pregnancy. This happens in two ways:

  1. The lining of your uterus begins to thicken and develop in order to hold a fertilised egg.
  2. The follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) prompts your ovaries to produce follicles which contain eggs. Usually, only one egg matures fully and is ready for fertilisation, while the others perish.

Phase 3: Ovulation

Ovulation is when one of the ovaries releases an egg and usually happens around 2 weeks before menstruation. In this phase, there is an increase of oestrogen which activates the luteinising hormone (LH). LH causes the follicle to rupture and release the matured egg which exits the ovary and travels to the closest fallopian tube and into your uterus. As the egg goes down the fallopian tube, the lining of your uterus becomes thicker. Once at the uterus, the egg waits for 24 hours for fertilisation before beginning to deteriorate. If you are planning on falling pregnant, it’s useful to learn more about when your ovulation will occur to increase your chances.

Phase 4: Luteal Phase

In this phase, the empty follicle becomes what is known as a corpus luteum which produces the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone. At this point, one of two things can happen:

  1. If the egg has been fertilised, it will move to the uterus and attach to the lining, thus beginning your pregnancy.
  2. If fertilisation does not occur, the lining of your uterus along with the unfertilised egg is shed through the vaginal opening, beginning your period and new menstrual cycle.