What is a menstrual cycle?

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What is a menstrual cycle

We all girls have heard about menstruations. But these are not mere «monthlies» they may seem to us. These are a reflection of a complex process called a menstrual cycle (derived from Latin menstruus, meaning «monthly»). So what is it for and what good is it?

2 periods of a menstrual cycle

Gynecologists divide the cycle into 2 periods:

  • A menstrual period covers the days when the monthlies come. Menstruations are the discharge from the uterine cavity that occurs at regular intervals (in average, every four weeks). They continue throughout the entire reproductive period of a woman’s life and indicate that everything is OK in her body.

  • A non-menstrual period is when the body prepares for a conception.

What happens during the cycle?

What is a menstrual cycle

The cycle continues from the first day of the period to the identical first day of the next menstruation. So what happens in your body during this time?

An ovum (mature egg) comes out of a follicle (that’s ovulation). It happens 12-14 days before the menstruation. In place of the empty follicle, a yellow body forms — that’s endocrine tissue that generates progesterone and folliculin hormones. The uterus perceives these hormones as a signal that it should prepare internal environment for the embryo admission. The mucous wall starts thickening because of its growth. Inside it, glands start generating their secretion to create the right environment for the embryo. The blood supply to the inner and outer genitalia improves.

Meanwhile, the ovum is picked up by moving cilia of Fallopian tubes and placed in their opening. In this space, its meeting with a spermatozoid can happen. Therefore, remember that the mid-cycle is a dangerous time for you unless you are planning a pregnancy.

If the fertilization happened, the ovum moves on further, into the uterine cavity and attaches itself to its loose mucous membrane. The female body continues altering to create conditions one needs to carry a fetus, to bear a child and breastfeed it. However, if no pregnancy happened, a menstruation starts.

Why is there blood discharged during the menstruation?

In the absence of a fertilization, the mucous membrane uterus in your body stops growing. By the next monthly cycle, it starts preparing for a successful ovum implantation once again. Therefore, the layer that did not prove useful for carrying the baby this month gets rejected. The membrane peels off and comes out of the body together with the discharge.

The process takes about 3-4 days; the uterine cavity is then completely purified. The deep layer of the mucosa starts producing young membrane intensely, so that in the middle of the new cycle, there were conditions for an «implantation» of a fertilized ovum.

What happens in the ovaries?


In the absence of a pregnancy, the yellow body that reached its utmost development 2 weeks from the ovulation undergoes devolution and entirely disappears leaving a microscopic scar on the ovary surface. Once the yellow body dissolves, a process of a new follicle’s ripening is triggered in your body. An ovulation happens again with the ovum moving beyond the follicle’s boundaries. This keeps on happening throughout the entire reproductive period (until you turn 45-50).

Control your menstrual cycle

If your monthlies last 3 to 7 days, come regularly every 21-35 days (the cycle length is different with different women), it means that the regulation of your female health is normal. However, it is a complex mechanism and, unfortunately, a number of negative factors can easily disturb it, such as:

  • over-fatigue;

  • stresses;

  • diseases of other organs and systems;

  • nutritional disturbances (strict diets);

  • taking some medications.

Therefore, you should keep a close eye on the regularity of your monthlies and note the changes in the cycle, discharge scope and general well-being.