By Maggie Landwermeyer, MD
It is pretty much universal…most women hate their period. We call it by many endearing nicknames: “Aunt Flo”, “The Monthly Curse,” – you get the idea. We all know it is a necessary evil for reproductive health. Let’s take a closer look at the menstrual cycle and learn about it.
Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released into the fallopian tube in hopes of conception and subsequent pregnancy. Calculating the day of ovulation is kind of tricky. This is because it is typically a constant 14 days from ovulation to the first day of menstrual flow. However, the number of days between the first day of the period and ovulation is variable. To determine ovulation, count backwards 14 days from the first day of bleeding. This is typically the day that ovulation occurred in the previous cycle. You should be able to then predict when the next ovulation is likely to occur.
The lining of the uterus thickens throughout the month in hopes of sustaining a pregnancy. However, if the egg is not fertilized by the sperm, hormonal signals cause the lining of the uterus to shed. This is the menstrual bleed. The menstrual cycle begins (on average) at age 13 and ends (on average) at age 52. The range of normal can be from 21 to 35 days from Cycle Day 1 to the next Cycle Day 1. Average length of bleeding ranges from 3 days to 10 days.
Hemorrhage concerns occur if a woman soaks through a pad/tampon an hour for 2 consecutive hours, or becomes light-headed, dizzy, or feels like she may pass out. Contact your provider if these symptoms occur.
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