Menstrual Cycle

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Menstrual cycle or periods is a part of growth and development of a female whereby the body is readied for the process of reproduction. The first period also called menarche and may occur between the ages of 8 to 15 years. The time between the start of one period and the start of the next is called a menstrual cycle. The average length of a cycle is 28 days and can vary between 24 to 35 days. The changes occur due to hormone levels in the body. The first half of the cycle is the proliferative or follicular phase, where both estrogen and progesterone levels are low and the inner lining of the uterus called the endometrium is shed with bleeding.

The shedding of the endometrium with bleeding is the period and may last from 2-7 days, with flow ranging from light to heavy.

Thereafter the level of estrogen starts to rise and helps the lining of the womb to grow and thicken as a preparation to receive the fertilized egg, if pregnancy occurs. At the same time an egg or ovum starts to mature in one of the ovaries and on day 14 of a 28-day cycle leaves the ovary and starts to travel via the fallopian tube to the uterus. This is called ovulation.

If the egg is fertilized by a sperm from a man, the zygote attaches itself to the uterine wall. If the egg Is not fertilized, the hormone level drops around day 25 and the thickened endometrium is shed during the next period.

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