What is a period/menstrual cycle? – Overview of Menstrual Cycle
The time between the beginning of our last period and the beginning of our next period is known as the menstrual cycle or the period cycle. For instance, if our last period began on the 20th. of May and the next period began on the 18th. of June, then our period cycle or the menstrual cycle would be the time between the 20th. May to 18th. June.
Let’s understand the period cycle in four stages given below – Overview of Menstrual Cycle
Stage 1 – Overview of Menstrual Cycle
Taking about 28 days to thicken up, our uterine line begins to shed as our periods begin and the first day of our period is considered to be the beginning of our menstrual or period cycle.
Stage 2 – Overview of Menstrual Cycle
Our uterine lining is shed and discharged through our vagina during our period which, on average, lasts anywhere between 2 to 7 days. To prepare for a potential pregnancy, the lining begins to thicken again as our period ends.
Stage 3 – Overview of Menstrual Cycle
An egg is released by the ovaries around the 14th day of the cycle, and the process is known as Ovulation. The egg after making its way to the uterus settles in the uterine lining.
Stage 4 – Overview of Menstrual Cycle
If the egg is not fertilized during the period when the egg is settled in the uterine lining, the lining of the uterus is broken down and is ultimately shed to mark the beginning of our next period.
From puberty, when we get our first period, to when we cease to menstruate (menopause), the entire cycle is repeated every month. Menopausal symptoms and eventual permanent end of periods are experienced in between the late 40s and the early 50s by most women.
In the initial stage or when we first start to get our periods, for a couple of years, our menstrual cycle may be irregular and hard to predict. This is completely normal and happens because our body is looking for its natural rhythm. We should get our periods normally every month, once that rhythm is found by our body.
Key Takeaway – Overview of Menstrual Cycle
Periods are as natural part of growing up as our appetite for food. We are not ashamed of feeling hungry and eating food, similarly, there is nothing to be ashamed of about our periods. In case of any doubts regarding the same, we should try to have healthy conversations with our health care providers, teachers, parents, older siblings, or even friends.
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