Menstruation is the part of the hormonal cycle when the uterus sheds its lining and the tissues and blood leave the body through the vagina. The medical term for getting your period is menstruation or "menses". Your hormone system controls your menstrual cycle. The changes in your body are brought on by changes in the levels of hormones that are circulating through your system. Changes include a menstruation, cramps and moodiness to name a few.

Periods begin anytime between age eight and 18 and last until menopause. If you haven't had a period by age 15 visit your doctor for a check-up.

Once a female starts having periods, it may take the body some time to adjust. Your periods may be unpredictable and irregular during the first few years. Eventually, your body will settle into a schedule and your periods will become more regular.

The first day of a menstrual cycle is said to be the first day of menstruation. The last day of the cycle is the last day before the next period starts. Generally, periods last a few days in the monthly cycle.

The whole menstrual-ovulation cycle usually takes about one month from one period to the next. The average cycle can range on average from 23 - 35 days.

Each period usually lasts between two to eight days. All of these lengths, or anything in between, is normal. Everyone's period is different. Your 'normal' period can also change depending on your age. Long or unpredictable menstrual cycles are normal for teenagers.

The menstrual cycle generally has five phases based on a 28-day cycle.
Day 1: Bleeding Starts
  • Hormone levels are at their lowest
  • Lining of the uterus is released from the body as menstrual blood
  • The unfertilized ovum (egg) produced in the last cycle is also shed

Day 2 - 12: Menstruation

  • Typically, menstruation (the period) continues for three to six days
  • When menstruation begins, a new egg begins to mature in the ovaries
  • Increasing hormone levels prompt the uterine lining to thicken, beginning around day nine
  • If a person becomes pregnant this nutrient-rich lining supports the developing embryo

Day 14 (approximately)

  • Ovulation (releasing the egg) usually occurs about 14 days before the person gets her period
  • However, ovulation is influenced by many factors, and has been known to occur any time during the cycle, even during the menstrual period.
  • Estrogen levels peak
  • Sac containing the mature egg splits open releasing it from the ovary: this is called ovulation
  • Lining of the uterus continues to get thicker

Day 15 - 22: Luteal Phase

  • The empty sac left in the ovary begins to produce both estrogen and progesterone, this sac is called the corpus luteum
  • The uterine lining continues to thicken due to estrogen produced by the ovary
  • The egg travels from the ovary down the fallopian tube
  • If the egg is going to be fertilized, it is likely to happen now. When a fertilized egg reaches the uterus, high levels of estrogen and progesterone signal the uterine lining to allow it to implant on the wall of the uterus.

Day 22 - 28

  • Around this time the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone
  • If the egg has not been fertilized, levels of both estrogen and progesterone will begin to drop

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