Understanding Menstrual Cycle

Pregnancy comes with a lot of questions and doubts, especially to those who are experiencing it for the first time. Understanding your menstrual cycle is really essential as it plays the most important part in pregnancy. Let’s understand how your menstrual cycle is related to your pregnancy.

At the start of a menstrual cycle, an egg is released from the ovary in a woman’s body. When the male sperm meets the female egg, the baby is conceived. Answered below are some of the most common questions related to menstrual cycle that may arise in your mind while planning pregnancy.

How long is the menstrual cycle?

The number of days in a menstrual cycle is calculated from the first day of a period to the day before the next period. Generally, the average duration of a menstrual cycle is assumed to be around 28 days, although many women have longer or shorter cycles.

What happens during the menstrual cycle?

Menstrual cycle is divided into four phases: Menstrual Phase, Follicular Phase, Ovulation Phase and Luteal Phase.

Menstrual Phase:

Day 1st to 7th of a menstrual cycle is considered as Menstrual Phase. Shedding off the uterus lining in this phase makes you experience bleeding, cramps, fatigue, body pain, which is worst in first 3 days. You also undergo emotional changes causing frequent mood swings. But from 3rd and 4th day onwards, as soon as your period ends you start feeling quite relieved, energetic and accelerated. This energy rise is because of estrogen.

Follicular Phase

You have started glowing now. Yes, your mirror can tell you. If you missed to notice, others must have told you – your face looks vibrant; your skin is shining. This is because of the boost in estrogen and testosterone. That is when the Follicular Phase begins. In this phase, a hormone named Follicle Stimulating Hormone–FSH is released that stimulates ovary to produce mature eggs. Fluid cavities of ovary are called follicles and each follicle has one underdeveloped egg. Stimulation of multiple follicles leads to the production of estrogen. Also, it thickens the lining of womb and helps in conceiving.

Ovulation Phase:

Craving for mistimed munchies? Feeling excited for no reason? Even a little pleasure or praise is making you feel like you’re on top of the world? Yes, it’s quite justifiable because the estrogen is on its peak level.

As a matter of fact, estrogen hormone regulates your menstrual cycle. Estrogen is also responsible for healthy bones and your heart. Many of the Women believe 14th is the day of ovulation but it might vary. Ovulation is the time when the mature egg gets released from the follicle. The follicle that releases mature egg is the dominant one among all follicles. Released egg can survive only for 24 hours.

If sperm is available in this period fertilization takes place. Days leading to ovulation and the ovulation day are the most fertile ones. It is the time when a woman has maximum chances of getting pregnant.

Luteal Phase:

Feeling like skipping meetings, conversations or keeping away from your social circle? It’s because your pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS) have begun. This phase is called Luteal Phase when progesterone hormone further builds up the womb for a fertilized egg. It’s the time when women experience the symptoms of pre-menstrual tension such as breast tenderness, bloating, lethargy, depression and irritability. In Luteal Phase you have two possibilities.

1. If the egg is not fertilized: Estrogen and progesterone levels go down. This is the start of next period or say the beginning of next menstrual cycle.

2. If the egg is fertilized: Fertilized egg implants into the womb lining. This usually occurs about a week after fertilization. Post fertilization, the body produces HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin). It’s responsible for placenta formation for baby.