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Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle 

The ultimate guide to your period


The ultimate guide to your period: understanding your menstrual cycle 

So you’ve had a period since your pre-teen or early teenage years but do you really understand your menstrual cycle?

It’s amazing how little many of us really know about the menstrual cycle – the same one we usually experience month-in, month-out.

With that in mind (and with KeyForHer keen and eager to educate, inform, and generally bring women together), we’ve compiled the ultimate guide.

Let us know what you think via our social platforms!

What is the menstrual cycle? 

The menstrual cycle is the monthly hormonal cycle a female’s body goes through to prepare for pregnancy.

Your menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of your period up to the first day of your next period. Your hormone levels (oestrogen and progesterone) usually change throughout the menstrual cycle and can cause menstrual symptoms like bloating and cramps. 

Menstruation is a woman’s monthly bleeding, often called your period. When you menstruate, your body discards the monthly buildup of the lining of your uterus. Menstrual blood and tissue flow from your uterus through the small opening in your cervix and pass out of your body through your vagina. 

During the monthly menstrual cycle, the uterus lining builds up to prepare for pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant, oestrogen and progesterone hormone levels begin falling. Very low levels of oestrogen and progesterone tell your body to begin menstruation. 

How long is a typical menstrual cycle? 

The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but each woman is different. Also, a woman’s menstrual cycle length might change slightly from month-to-month. Your periods are still “regular” if they usually come every 24 to 38 days.

Some women are so regular that they can predict the day – and even the time! – that their periods will start. Other women are regular but their periods fluctuate and begin within the space of a few days.  

What is ovulation? 

Ovulation is when the ovary releases an egg so it can be fertilised by a sperm. A woman is most likely to get pregnant if she has sex without birth control in the three days before and up to the day of ovulation (since the sperm are already in place and ready to fertilise the egg as soon as it is released). A man’s sperm can live for three to five days in a woman’s reproductive organs, but a woman’s egg lives for just 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. 

At different times in a woman’s life, ovulation may or may not happen: 

  •   Women who are pregnant do not ovulate. 
  •   Women who are breastfeeding may or may not ovulate. Women who are breastfeeding should talk to their doctor about birth control. 
  •   During peri-menopause, the transition to menopause, you may not ovulate every month. 
  •   After menopause you do not ovulate. 

How do I know if I’m ovulating? 

A few days before you ovulate, your vaginal mucus or discharge changes and becomes more slippery and clear. This type of mucus helps sperm move up into your uterus and into the fallopian tubes. Some women feel minor cramping on one side of their pelvic area when they ovulate. Some women have other signs of ovulation. 

Luteinising hormone is released by your brain and tells an ovary to release an egg. LH levels begin to surge about 36 hours before ovulation, peaking about 12 hours before ovulation. Women who want to get pregnant can track a slight rise in their basal temperature (the temperature before you get out of bed after sleeping) around ovulation.

How does my cycle change as I get older? 

Often, periods are heavier when you are younger (in your teens) and usually get lighter in your 20s and 30s. This is normal. 

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have menstrual cycles that are longer than 38 days or shorter than 24 days. 

Why should I keep track of my menstrual cycle? 

If your periods are regular, tracking them will help you know when you ovulate, when you are most likely to get pregnant, and when to expect your next period. 

If your periods are irregular, tracking them can help you share any problems with your doctor or nurse. 

If you have period pain or bleeding that causes you to miss school or work, tracking these period symptoms will help you and your doctor find treatments that work for you. Severe pain or bleeding that causes you to miss regular activities is not normal and can be treated. Key Menstrual was designed to naturally help with period cramps, try it here.

 How can I keep track of my menstrual cycle? 

You can keep track of your menstrual cycle by marking the day you start your period on a calendar. After a few months, you can begin to see if your periods are regular or if your cycles are different each month. 

You may want to track: 

  •   Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms: did you have cramping, headaches, moodiness, forgetfulness, bloating, or breast tenderness? 
  •   When your bleeding begins: was it earlier or later than expected? 
  •   How heavy the bleeding was on your heaviest days: was the bleeding heavier or lighter than usual? How many pads or tampons did you use? 
  •   Period symptoms: did you have pain or bleeding on any days that caused you to miss work or school? 
  •   How many days your period lasted: was your period shorter or longer than the month before?

What is a normal amount of bleeding during my period? 

The average woman loses about two to three tablespoons of blood during her period. Your periods may be lighter or heavier than the average amount. What is normal for you may not be the same for someone else. Also, the flow may be lighter or heavier from month to month. 

Your periods may also change as you get older. Some women have heavy bleeding during perimenopause, the transition to menopause. Symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding may include: 

  •   Bleeding through one or more pads or tampons every one to two hours 
  •   Passing blood clots larger than the size of quarters 
  •   Bleeding that often lasts longer than eight days 

If you have any concerns about your menstrual cycle, speak to your healthcare professional. 

Key For Menstrual contains 38 nutrients that support daily wellness, a healthy cycle and provide natural ingredients for relief of symptoms associated with the monthly cycle.

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