All About Periods

The Menstrual Cycle

Did you know, every newborn baby girl is born with over 1 million ova (plural for ovum)? By the time you reach puberty, you will have about 400,000 ova stored in your ovaries!

A girl who has reached puberty will start to get her menstruation, also known as period or menses. A menstrual cycle usually lasts 28 days – it starts from the first day of your period to the last day before your next cycle. Menstrual cycles differ from each individual girl, therefore some may encounter shorter cycles of just 23 days, while other cycles can last up to 35 days.

When you begin your first period, your cycles may not be consistent and it may take up to a year or two for your menstrual cycle to become more regular. Once stable, it’ll be easier to estimate the length of your cycle and better predict when your next period will come. If you’ve just started to get your period, it’s good to keep track of your cycle by marking it out with a calendar or using a free period tracker mobile app like Laurier Plog (iOS Users | Android Users)

During the menstrual cycle, many different things take place inside your body. Here’s what happens during a typical 28-day cycle:

Day 1 – 5

This is when your period occurs. Every month, an average of 35ml or 4-6 tablespoons of menstrual fluid is shed. During this time, you may also feel cramps and bouts of moodiness.

What is going on inside?

When the egg is not fertilized, it is flushed out together with the diminished lining of your uterus (called the endometrium). These are what pass out as menstrual blood.

Day 6 – 10

Your period will usually be over by now! Your body still continues to work hard as it prepares you for the next phase of your cycle.

What is going on inside?

Your body releases oestrogen, a hormone that acts as a signal uterus. Upon this release, the uterus walls become thicker with tissue and blood vessels in preparation for the development of the new incoming egg.

Day 11 – 18

At this stage, your body enters the ovulation phase. You may also observe a little more discharge than usual. This is absolutely normal – using a pantyliner during these days will keep you feeling fresh all day!

What is going on inside?

While the uterine lining continues to grow, the pituitary gland in the brain releases a hormone that sends a message to the ova in the ovaries. One egg  is ‘selected’ to develop and is then released from the ovaries. This process is called ovulation and usually takes place between Day 11 to Day 18 of your cycle. Ovulation happens in preparation for a possible pregnancy.

Day 19 – 28

During this last part of your cycle, your body is preparing for your next period. As the date of your next period draws near, you may experience some pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS) such as irritability, bloating or breast tenderness. Such symptoms vary from person to person and are perfectly normal.

What is going on inside?

Progesterone, another hormone in the female body, is released to make the uterine lining thicker. The egg has now travelled down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If fertilization occurs to the ova, it will attach itself to the thickened uterine wall and develop into a baby. With no ova and uterine lining to flush out during pregnancy, menstruation typically stops for the entire length of 9 months.

If the ovum is not fertilized, the thickened lining of the uterus is not needed and is thus passed out through the vagina. This would mean the start of your period, and the entire cycle repeats itself all over again.

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