Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle

 The length of a woman's menstrual cycle varies, but on average, she has a period every 28 days. It's natural to have periods that are longer or shorter than this, varying from 21 to 40 days.

"The menstrual cycle is described as the interval between the first day of a woman's period and the day before her next period," describes Toni Belfield, a sexual health professional and certified fertility awareness trainer.

"Girls can start their cycles at any age," Belfield says, "but the average is about 12 years." "In this region, the average age for menopause (when cycles stop) is 50 to 55."

A woman would have about 480 cycles between the ages of 12 and 52, or less if she is younger.

During the menstrual cycle, what happens?

It helps to know about the female organs inside a woman's body to understand the menstrual cycle. There are the following:

2 ovaries – the preservation, growth, and release of eggs

a fertilized egg implants and a baby develops in the womb (uterus)

Two thin tubes that attach the ovaries to the womb are known as the fallopian tubes.

the cervix – the womb's entry from the vaginal canal

the genital canal

Hormones are in charge of the menstrual cycle. Oestrogen levels increase over each stage, allowing the ovary to produce and release an egg (ovulation). The lining of the abdomen continues to thicken as well.

The hormone progesterone assists the womb in preparation for the implantation of a developing embryo in the second half of the cycle.

The egg is transferred into the fallopian tubes. The egg is reabsorbed into the body if conception does not occur. The womb lining comes away and leaves the body as a time, and oestrogen and progesterone levels decrease (the menstrual flow).

It takes 10 to 16 days from the release of an egg to the start of a year.

See this animation to learn more about the menstrual period.

What are periods?

A period is made up of blood and the lining of the womb. The first day of a woman's period is day 1 of the menstrual cycle.

"Periods last from 2 to 7 days, and women loss about 3 to 5 tablespoons of blood per month," Belfield notes.

Some women bleed more frequently than this, so if heavy cycles are a concern, support is possible.

Read about recovery choices for heavy periods.

What happens when a woman ovulates?

The emergence of an egg from the ovaries is known as ovulation. Both of a woman's eggs are present when she is conceived.

Each menstrual cycle, one egg grows and is released once she begins her cycles. The egg survives for 24 hours after ovulation.

When a man's sperm encounters and fertilizes an egg, conception occurs. Sperm will last up to 7 days in the fallopian tubes after sex.

During ovulation, more than one egg can be released. Multiple births, such as twins, can occur where more than one egg is fertilized.

If ovulation does not occur, a woman would not be able to conceive. Hormonal abortion options include the combination pill, the contraceptive sticker, and the contraceptive ring.the contraceptive injection – work by stopping ovulation.

How do you feel the most fertile?

"Theoretically, there's just a limited window of opportunities for women to get pregnant, and that window is about ovulation," Belfield says.

It's impossible to pinpoint precisely when ovulation begins, but it usually occurs 10 to 16 days before the next cycle for most women.

"To assume that all women are fertile on day 14 of their menstrual cycle isn't true," Belfield says. This may be true for women who have a 28-day cycle, but that may not be true for women who have shorter or longer periods.

See the FPA's guide to natural family planning for more detail on fertility awareness.

Vaginal secretions that are natural
During the menstrual cycle, vaginal secretions (also known as vaginal discharge) shift. They get smaller and stretchier at the time of ovulation, resembling raw egg white.
If you're worried about a difference in your vaginal discharge, see your doctor.
Read more about conceiving, reproduction, and time concerns.

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