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The Phases of Menstruation: A Comprehensive Guide

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Menstruation, also known as periods, is a biological process that occurs every month and prepares your body for a potential pregnancy. 

The menstrual cycle occurs in four distinct phases, namely the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase. 

Knowing about these phases is essential because you can utilize the information to help you conceive or avoid pregnancy. The information also helps you deal with any unwanted menstrual symptoms you may be having.

Let’s proceed with this article and get a better understanding of the phases of menstruation.

The 4 Phases of Menstruation

Usually, on average, a menstrual cycle lasts 24 to 38 days. However, this timing might vary from person to person. 

The length of your menstrual cycle is determined by the time from the first day of your period to the start of the next one. 

As mentioned, this cycle is categorized into four distinct phases, including the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulation phase, and the luteal phase.

Let’s further explore these phases of menstruation in detail.

Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)

woman suffering from bloatingSource: getty_images
Woman suffering from bloating

The menstrual phase is the start of a woman’s cycle. It begins when the lining of the uterus from the last cycle sheds and comes out through the vagina, causing menstrual bleeding. Usually, it occurs once a month, approximately every 28 to 30 days, and lasts for 3 to 7 days.

Some women can experience symptoms such as cramping, bloating, and mood swings during this phase.

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  • Follicular phase (Days 1-13)

    The follicular phase is the longest stage of the menstrual cycle that overlaps with the menstrual phase. It begins on the first day of menstruation and continues until ovulation. 

    During this phase, the pituitary gland releases a hormone called Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) that stimulates the ovaries to start developing follicles. Eventually, one of these follicles becomes dominant and releases estrogen. 

    This, in turn, thickens the uterine lining in preparation for potential pregnancy. Other follicles stop growing and break down.

    Glossary
    Follicle-stimulating hormone controls the body’s development, growth, pubertal maturity, and reproductive activities.

    Ovulation (Around day 14)

    Ovulation phase
    Ovulation phase

    The release of a developed egg from the ovary marks the beginning of ovulation. It usually occurs in the middle of the cycle and lasts 12 to 24 hours.

    During ovulation, the above-mentioned dominant follicle in the ovary releases an egg. The egg then goes down the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it can be fertilized by sperm.

    Luteal phase (Days 15-28)

    The luteal phase is the stage of your cycle after ovulation. It usually lasts about 10-14 days, however this varies from person to person. During the luteal phase, the empty follicle in the ovary, where the egg has been released, develops into a structure known as the corpus luteum. 

    This corpus luteum produces hormones such as Progesterone and some estrogen, which thickens the uterine lining to facilitate the attachment of a fertilized egg.

    If fertilization does not occur, hormone levels decline at the end of the luteal phase, resulting in the loss of the uterine lining and the beginning of the next period. However, if fertilization occurs, the corpus luteum continues to generate hormones to support early pregnancy.

    Warning:
    Hormonal changes in women before menstruation can lead to several health issues, such as headaches, exhaustion, irritability, and fluid retention.

    Conclusion

    The menstrual cycle is a complex biological process that prepares you for possible pregnancy.

    A normal menstrual cycle lasts 24 to 38 days, comprising four distinct phases, including the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase.

    The menstrual phase marks the start of menstruation and is overlapped by the follicular phase. After the follicular phase, ovulation triggers the release of an egg from the ovary, followed by the luteal phase, which initiates early pregnancy.

    Understanding these phases of menstruation is essential to overcome the undesirable consequences.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I monitor my menstrual cycle?

    You may monitor your cycle with a calendar, diary, or smartphone app. Keep track of the first day of your period every month, as well as any symptoms you have.

    What is ovulation?

    Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from the ovary, which typically happens in the middle of the menstrual cycle. It is an essential stage for conception because it is the most fertile time in the menstrual cycle.

    Should you eat differently at different phases of menstruation?

    Eating differently during different phases of menstruation can help maintain your energy levels and prevent the likelihood of any side effects like menstrual pain associated with the menstrual cycle.

    How long does each phase of menstruation generally last? 

    The menstrual phase of an average 28-day cycle lasts 3 to 7 days, the follicular phase 10 to 16 days, ovulation 16 to 32 hours, and the luteal phase lasts 14 days. 

    Is it normal to have irregular menstrual cycles? 

    Yes, occasional abnormalities in the menstrual cycle are normal and can be caused by stress, sickness, weight changes, or hormone variations. 
    However, if you experience persistent irregularities or major changes in your menstrual cycle, you should consult a gynecologist.

    Citations:
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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for CheapMedicineShop.com. With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for CheapMedicineShop.com, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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