Ovulation and the menstrual cycle are part of every woman’s life. They also play a great role in fertility and pregnancy. Here are some important facts that you must know as a woman.
The pattern of ovulation and the menstrual cycle may vary for every female. Some are longer than the others and some bleed heavily more than the others. However, signs of irregularity must not be ignored since they may hinder one’s fertility.
When a woman hits puberty, typically at the age of 11 to 14, the ovaries start producing and releasing an egg. This process is called ovulation. Before ovulation occurs, the uterus lining thickens to prepare for the implantation of the fertilized egg.
If the egg is not fertilized, the uterus lining sheds. The discharge of the blood and tissue is called menstruation. The menstruation phase may occur for 3 to 7 days. A woman’s cycle may last for 28 to 32 days.
Stages of the Menstrual Cycle
Menstrual cycle has phases that every women should know.
A menstrual cycle undergoes four stages: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulation phase, and the luteal phase. If you want to be pregnant, you must familiarize yourself with these phases since timing is significant in pregnancy.
The first stage is the menstrual phase. This is the time that your uterus lining sheds. You may experience cramps, bloating, mood swings, and headaches. This may last for 3 to 7 days, however, it may vary.
Take note that the follicular phase overlaps with the menstrual phase and ends when you ovulate. During this stage, a hormone signals the ovary to produce follicles that contain immature eggs. The healthiest egg is the only one that matures. The cycle can occur for 11 to 27 days.
The next stage is the ovulation phase. This is the time when you can get pregnant. The left or the right ovary releases a mature egg then it goes to the fallopian tube, down to the uterus, waiting to be fertilized by a sperm. It only lasts for 24 hours. If the egg is not fertilized, it will die or dissolve.
You can tell that you are already ovulating if there is a slight increase in your basal body temperature and there is a thicker discharge that looks like the egg white. If you have a 28-day cycle, your ovulation typically happens on the 14th day.
The last phase is the luteal phase. This happens when hormones such as progesterone and estrogen are released. The increase of these hormones in the body thickens the uterine lining as preparation for the implantation of the fertilized egg. You will also experience premenstrual syndrome. The phase may last for 11 to 17 days.
What is an Irregular Period?
Irregular period may be a symptom of an ovulation problem or any health condition.
An irregular period occurs when the days of menstruation vary from time to time and the phase is outside the 21 to 35 days range. This may not be a big deal but you must consult a doctor to be sure that an ovulation problem or any health condition is not the cause.
A study conducted in South Korea published by PloS One in March 2019 revealed that out of 4,709 women from ages 19 to 54, 14 percent are experiencing irregular menstruation. It was found out that many of the women experiencing this are manual overnight shifts, sales workers, and unemployed.
Factors that Cause Irregular Periods
Stress is non-medical issue that can result to irregularity.
Irregular periods can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, health conditions, or contraceptives. It is important to know the factors that may contribute to the irregularity of your menstruation since it may also affect your ovulation.
The result of various contraceptives may result in an irregularity in menstruation, not only for a short time but also for a long time. Taking a birth control pill daily has a 70 percent chance of suppressing your cycle. A hormone shot, on the other hand, can cause irregularity for 22 months.
Medical issues can also be the reason for an irregular cycle. Some of these are polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid or pituitary disorders, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
However, there are non-medical issues that can also cause irregularity. You can experience menstrual irregularities if you are in perimenopause- a transition to menopause. Irregularity can also be a result of stress and anxiety, extreme exercise, eating disorders, and age.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding a newborn, or suffered from miscarriage, expect that you will have no menstruation at all. Before consulting a doctor, make sure that you are not in these situations.
Natural Ways to Regulate Menstrual Cycle
Practicing yoga reduces menstrual pain.
There are still methods that you can do to improve your ovulation and menstrual cycle. Here are some natural ways that could help you regulate your menstrual cycle:
Dr. Yaron Seidman DAOM