Women's Health - Menstrual Cycle
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What is a menstrual cycle?
- The menstrual cycle is the series of changes a woman's body goes through to prepare for a pregnancy.
- About once a month, the uterus grows a new lining (endometrium) to get ready for a fertilized egg .
- When there is no fertilized egg to start a pregnancy, the uterus sheds its lining.
- This is the monthly menstrual bleeding (also called menstrual period) that women have from their early teen years until menopause, around age 50.
When does the menstrual cycle start?
The menstrual cycle is from Day 1 of bleeding to Day 1 of the next time of bleeding.
How long does a menstrual cycle last?
Although the average cycle is 28 days, it is perfectly normal to have a cycle that is as short as 21 days or as long as 35 days. For a teen, a normal cycle can last up to 45 days.
When do girls usually have their menstrual periods?
Girls usually start having menstrual periods between the ages of 11 &14.
When do women usually start to have fewer periods?
- Women usually start to have fewer periods between ages 39 & 51.
- If you are nearing menopause, your cycles will probably get longer and then will stop.
When should you contact your PCP about your menstrual cycle?
- It’s especially important to check with your doctor if you have three or more cycles that last longer than 7 days or are very heavy.
- Also call if you have bleeding between your periods or pelvic pain that is not from your period.
What controls the menstrual cycle?
- Your hormones control your menstrual cycle.
- During each cycle, your brain's hypothalamus and pituitary gland send hormone signals back and forth with your ovaries.
- These signals get the ovaries and uterus ready for a pregnancy.
Which two (2) hormones play the biggest roles in how the uterus changes during each cycle?
The hormones estrogen and progesterone play the biggest roles in how the uterus changes during each cycle.
What causes the lining to break down & starts a period?
A drop in progesterone (along with estrogen) causes the lining to break down. This is when your period starts.
What are the roles of the two (2) hormones in stimulating pregnancy?
- Estrogen builds up the lining of the uterus.
- Progesterone increases after an ovary releases an egg (ovulation) at the middle of the cycle. This helps the estrogen keep the lining thick and ready for a fertilized egg.
What is the optimal time period for intercourse to produce pregnancy?
- 2d before to 2d after ovulation
- every other day to allow sperm to mature fully between sessions
What common symptoms are linked to the menstrual cycle?
- For about a week before a period, many women have some premenstrual symptoms.
- feel more tense or angry
- gain water weight and feel bloated
- breast tenderness (mastodynia)
- less energy than usual
- A day or two before your period, you may start having pain (cramps) in your belly, back, or legs. These symptoms go away during the first days of a period.
- When your ovary releases an egg in the middle of your cycle, you may have pain in your lower belly. You also might have red spotting for less than a day. Both are normal.
How can women take care of bleeding and symptoms?
- You can use pads or tampons to manage bleeding. Whichever you use, be sure to change the pad or tampon at least every 4 to 6 hours during the day. Pads may be best at night.
- You can take an over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen or naproxen before and during your period to reduce pain and bleeding.
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