20 Oct 2022 | 8 min Read
Author | 274 Articles
Do you know when your last period began or how long it lasted? Well, if not, it might be time for you to start paying attention to it. Tracking your menstrual cycle can help you understand what’s normal, time your ovulation, and also identify significant changes, such as a missed period or an irregular menstrual cycle. It can also help you plan your pregnancy better in the future.
While irregularities in a menstrual cycle is considered pretty common, they shouldn’t be ignored, as in some cases they indicate a serious underlying health condition. Keep reading as we give you more details about menstruation, an average period length, and when to seek medical advice from your doctor.
Menstruation is defined as the monthly shedding of the lining of your uterus. It is also known by the terms menses, menstrual cycle, or period. The menstrual blood (which is a combination of tissues from your uterus and blood), passes from your uterus through the cervix and is expelled out of your body through the vagina.
The menstrual cycle is a term used to describe the series of changes occurring within your body, as it prepares itself for a possible pregnancy each month. Your menstrual cycle is considered to begin on the first day of your period and generally lasts for about 28 days. However, keep in mind, that your average period length can also range between 21-35 days.
Hormonal changes trigger different changes in your body during the menstrual cycle. In fact, these changes lead up to your period, and they occur in a predictable manner every month. The changes are categorised into different stages, and we have given an in-depth overview of them in the next section.
This phase lasts from day one to five of your menstrual cycle. During this phase, the lining of your uterus sheds blood through the vagina, confirming that pregnancy has not occurred. Most women bleed for at least three to five days, but again the length varies from one person to another. A period length ranging between 2-7 days is also considered normal.
This phase occurs from days 6-14 of your menstrual cycle. During this time, the level of oestrogen production in your body rises, which causes the lining of your uterus to grow and thicken. Additionally, a separate hormone, known as the follicle-stimulating hormone, encourages the growth of follicles in your ovaries. Between days 10-14, one of the developing follicles will form a fully mature egg, also known as an ovum.
A sudden increase in a hormone called the luteinizing hormone causes your ovary to release an egg (oocyte). This phenomenon is called ovulation and it typically occurs on day 14 of a 28-day menstrual cycle.
The follicle that released the egg begins to shrink into a structure called corpus luteum. It begins to produce both oestrogen as well as progesterone hormones. Due to the production of progesterone, the lining of your uterus begins to change and prepares for pregnancy. During the last days of your cycle, your uterine lining becomes thicker and more complex with blood vessels, glands, and tissue swelling. These changes occur to prepare for the process of implantation and pregnancy.
However, if implantation of a fertilised egg doesn’t occur, the corpus luteum in your ovary continues to shrink. Additionally, during this time the oestrogen and progesterone levels in your body decline. This phenomenon causes the blood vessels in your thickened uterine lining to constrict and cut off blood flow. Without any blood flow to support it, the thickened uterine lining dies and sheds from the uterus.
To determine whether your menstrual cycle is normal you can start keeping a record of it in a calendar. Begin by tracking your start date every month and identify the regularity in the upcoming months. Make sure to do this for several months in a row to detect any irregularities or missed period.
If you are concerned about your period cycle, then make sure to take note of the following factors every month. You can later show this record to your doctor, as it will help them identify any abnormalities easily.
There are many factors that can cause irregularities (missed period, abnormal bleeding, excessive pain) in your menstrual cycle. Some of them include:
Following a healthy lifestyle, indulging in moderate physical activities regularly, and consuming a balanced diet can help regulate your menstrual cycle. In addition to this, you can also consider taking hormone-regulating pills or birth control pills to normalise your cycle. But only add these medicines to your routine after thorough consultation with your doctor.
If you notice the following symptoms during your menstrual cycle, then make sure to seek advice from your doctor right away.
It is essential to keep a track of your menstrual cycle to rule out the possibility of any serious health conditions like PCOS or ovary failure. Plus, tracking your period length could also help your doctor determine conditions like infertility and start appropriate treatment measures much before you plan your pregnancy. So, in case you notice any abnormalities in your cycle, as mentioned above, consider scheduling an appointment with a gynaecologist and getting a thorough medical checkup to determine the exact cause and administer the right treatment.
The four stages of the menstrual cycle are: the menses phases, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase.
A normal menstrual cycle can range anywhere between 28-35 days.
There could be a number of factors affecting your period, such as excessive weight gain or loss, hormonal changes, eating disorders, or serious health conditions like PCOS.
Factors like PCOS, premature ovarian failure, pregnancy, or breastfeeding can delay your period.
Your period can be late by a month, but if you haven’t menstruated over 90 days, and you are not pregnant, then you should definitely consult a doctor.
Ovulation symptoms: Check out the most common symptoms of ovulation to track your menstrual cycle.
Ovulation calculator: Use this effective ovulation calculator from BabyChakra to determine your most fertile days.
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