The duration of the female cycle varies. The most common cycle duration is between 23 and 35 days. The difference in the length of the menstrual cycles, as a rule, concerns the period before ovulation (the so-called follicular or follicular phase). In most women, from ovulation (when the egg comes out of the ovary) to the beginning of menstruation, it takes from 12 to 16 days (the so-called luteal phase).
Phases of the menstrual cycles
Menstruation: The first day of the menstrual cycles is the first day of menstruation (day 1). Menstruation then lasts from 3 to 7 days. Surely, you know that in the presence of menstrual pain, the most severe pain you experience in the first few days of menstruation. This is because your hormones actively promote the rejection of the uterine mucosa that has grown during the previous menstrual cycle.
Preparing for ovulation: At the beginning of your cycle, the pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, produces follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This is the main hormone that stimulates the ovaries to produce eggs. Follicles are fluid-filled vesicles in the ovaries. Each follicle contains an immature egg. FSH promotes the maturation of a certain number of follicles and the production of the hormone estrogen. On the first day of menstruation, the estrogen content is at its lowest level. Then it begins to rise along with the maturation of the follicles.
As the follicles develop, usually one of them becomes “dominant”, and in this large follicle the egg matures. At the same time, the growing level of estrogen in the body is responsible for saturating the lining of the uterine cavity with nutrients and blood. This is so that in the event of pregnancy, the fertilized egg will have all the nutrients and support needed for growth. High levels of estrogen also contribute to the formation of mucus, a “sperm-friendly” environment (or scientifically, cervical (cervical) mucus of the fertile phase). Perhaps you have paid attention to not thick sticky discharge, which may have a cloudy whitish hue. Spermatozoa move more easily through this mucus and survive for several days.
Understanding the ovulation cycle
Ovulation: The level of estrogen in the body is steadily increasing, and at some point it leads to a sharp increase in the level of luteinizing hormone (ovulatory surge of LH). The surge of LH leads to the rupture of the dominant follicle and the release of a mature egg from it, which then enters the fallopian tube. This process is called ovulation.
Many women believe that ovulation occurs on day 14, but 14 days is the average, and most women usually ovulate on another day of the menstrual cycle. The day of ovulation differs from cycle to cycle. Some women claim to experience a pain spasm during ovulation, but most women do not feel anything, and ovulation passes without any signs.
After ovulation: After release, the egg moves along the fallopian tube towards the uterus. Its life cycle is up to 24 hours. The life cycle of the sperm is more variable, however, and is usually between 3 and 5 days. Thus, the days immediately preceding ovulation and the day of ovulation itself are the most fertile – it is then that you have the greatest chance of becoming pregnant. Immediately after ovulation, the follicle begins to produce another hormone – progesterone.
Progesterone contributes to the subsequent preparation of the uterine mucosa for the reception of a fertilized egg. Meanwhile, the empty follicle in the ovary begins to shrink, but it continues to produce progesterone and begins to produce estrogen. During this time, you may experience premenstrual tension syndrome (PMS), such as breast soreness, bloating, drowsiness, depression, and irritability.