July 15th, 2015
Menstruation or menses is a term used to describe the monthly shedding of the uterus lining in women. As a result, the menstrual blood, comprising blood and tissue from the uterus, flows out of the body through the cervix and vagina. A menstrual cycle begins on the first day of menstruation and lasts 28 days, though it may range from 21 to 35 days. It ideally begins on the first day of a woman’s period and lasts until the day before her next period.
Hormones in a female’s body are responsible for controlling the menstrual cycle. In each menstrual cycle, the ovary develops an egg when estrogen levels rise and releases it. This condition is termed as ovulation. A woman can become pregnant only if ovulation occurs in her body and the male sperm meets and fertilizes the female egg.
When this happens, the uterus lining starts to thicken. Once ovulation has happened, progesterone hormone in a female’ body helps the uterus lining become thicker. At this time, the woman’s body is ready for pregnancy. The egg is released into the fallopian tubes and absorbed into the body if no pregnancy occurs. The body experiences a fall in the estrogen and progesterone levels, resulting in the shedding of the womb lining that leaves the body in the form of a menstrual flow.
Lasting 4-5 days, the menses phase is the time when the womb lining is shed out through the vagina. The first day of the period is day one of a normal menstrual cycle.
Lasting 6-14 days, the follicular phase is the time when the level of estrogen rises, causing thickening of the uterus lining. Simultaneously, follicle-stimulating hormone causes growth of follicles in the ovaries. One of these follicles forms a fully mature egg anytime during 10 to 14 days.
In a 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation normally occurs on day 14, causing a sudden increase in luteinizing hormone, which makes the ovary release egg.
The phase may begin from day 15th after the release of the egg from the ovary. The egg then starts to travel toward the uterus and passes through fallopian tubes. An increase in the level of progesterone is an important part of the process that prepares the womb lining for pregnancy.
Conception occurs if the woman has sexual intercourse with a male partner and her egg becomes fertilized by a sperm. The fertilized egg then attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. However, if there is no pregnancy, the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones drop, resulting in the shedding of the thickened uterine lining during the menstrual period.
Typically, girls start menstruating upon reaching 12 years of age, though some may begin to show symptoms at an age of 8 years. Some girls may experience a delayed menstruation cycle at the age of 16 years. A normal menstrual cycle may continue until a woman reaches 51 years of age.
Some of the common menstruation symptoms include:
Consult your doctor if you bleed more heavily than normal during periods or have delayed menses.
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