Menstruation is a medical term used to define the physiological changes that occur in women during and after puberty. It is a cycle of discharge of blood and menses from the vagina and occurs in regular intervals of about a month. Menstruation is also called periods or monthly discharge in common language.
Menstruation starts normally between twelve to fifteen years of age but in some girls, it may occur early due to genetic or hormonal changes. The periods happen with a difference on an average of 30 days and can occur anywhere between 21 to 45 days, depending on the age.
The bleeding during menstruation usually lasts about a week. Periods stop during menopause and also during pregnancy. Some women experience acne, saggy breasts, cramps and mood swings before and during menstruation. These symptoms may interfere with normal life.
After learning a few things about menstruation, lets jump into the details and learn, how does the menstrual cycle work?
The menstrual cycle happens due to increase and decrease in female sexual hormones. This cycle controls the production of an egg which is required for pregnancy. The egg is produced in the ovary and then transported to the uterus through the fallopian tube. This happens around the 14th day of the menstrual cycle. Once the egg reaches the uterus, it stays there to be fertilized by a sperm and to initiate pregnancy. If the conception does not occur, the egg is discharges out of the body in the process of menstruation.
The ovarian or menstrual cycle has three phases. First is the follicular phase, second is ovulation and the third is Luteal phase.
The first part of the menstrual cycle is called Follicular phase. During this phase, the follicles in the ovary mature and release the egg. This is induced by a follicle stimulating hormone as the cycle starts. One of the follicles continues to grow while others stop growing. The dominant follicle will grow and makes the ovum.
The second phase of ovarian cycles in the ovulation. During this phase, the egg is released from the follicles into the fallopian tubes. As the egg reaches maturity, a large amount of luteinizing hormones (LH) are produced over the duration of 48 hours. This matures the egg and causes the follicle to release the secondary oocyte which later matures into the ovum. The ovulation may occur in one of the two ovaries, the left and the right one. In some cases, both ovaries release eggs which increases the chances of fraternal twins if both eggs are fertilized.
This is the final phase of the menstrual cycle. During this phase, the FSH and LH hormones cause the production of progesterone which induces the production of estrogen. This fall triggers menstruation and marks the beginning of the next cycle, until pregnancy occurs.
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