The Female Menstrual Cycle
The female reproductive system normally goes through a series of regular changes which are called the menstrual cycle, because it is repeated month after month. The menstrual flow is not he same for every woman. On average, the cycle normally lasts between 28 to 34 days, and last about four to seven days, although there is some variation from one woman to another. The word "menstruation" comes from menses, the latin word for month.
When you menstruate, the lining of the uterus, (the endometrium), breaks up and passes slowly from the uterus through the vagina to the outside of your body. The flow might be red or quite dark, and might include some clumps or clots.
There are four phases that are associated with the start of your menstrual cycle or having your period.
Phase 1 The first day of your menstrual period is considered day one of your cycle.
Phase 2 Around or about day five the hormone estrogen signals the endometrium to grow and thicken. Your ovaries start to prepare another egg.
Phase 3 An egg is released from the ovary and moves into one of the fallopian tubes. An egg rotates each month from the right and left fallopian tubes. This step is called ovulation.
Phase 4 If the egg is not fertilized, hormones levels decrease, and the endometrium is shed during menstruation.
Although phases of the menstrual cycle can vary in length, the number of days between ovulation and the menstrual period is normally consistent.
Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Hormones like estrogen and progesterone have a definite effect on your menstruation since they regulate the ovulation during the menstrual cycle. Irregular periods are generally an indication of hormonal imbalance. An irregular menstruation period may be defined as one shorter than 21 days, or longer than 36 days.
Poor nutrition, stress, eating disorders, over exercising, and cigarette smoking can all contribute to irregular menstrual cycles.
Anxiety and other forms of emotional daily stress, overwork and fatigue can cause irregular periods. It is important to seek help if these factors are not controlled. These factors could make you lose emotional stability.
If you are experiencing increasing irregularity, you should schedule an evaluation with you physician.
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