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What is the menstrual cycle?

What is the menstrual cycle?

Sex-specific features, such as pubic hair and breast formation, often develop in adolescent girls between the ages of 11 and 14. One of the physiological changes that take place is the menstrual cycle. The first menstrual cycle is called menarche. If you are wondering about the menstrual cycle from puberty to menopause, you can follow the rest of the article.

What is the menstrual cycle and how does it occur?

On average, every 28 days, some changes occur in the female body against the possibility of becoming pregnant. In each cycle, an egg from one of the ovaries is ejected into the fallopian canal. This process is also known as ovulation. In each menstrual cycle, the uterus is structured to be ready for pregnancy. The uterine wall thickens and its vascularity increases. The main factor that provides these changes in the uterus is hormonal changes. However, if fertilization has not occurred in that menstrual cycle, the thickened uterine wall breaks down and is expelled from the body with bleeding. This process, which usually lasts 3-8 days, is known as the menstrual period. The menstrual cycle consists of 4 main phases: menstruation (menstrual period), follicular phase, ovulation (ovulation) and luteal phase:


Basically, it is the destruction and expulsion of the thickened inner lining of the uterus (endometrium). Most of the menstrual fluid content consists of blood. The remaining part consists of epithelial cells of the endometrium and glandular secretion. It usually takes 3 to 8 days. Bleeding is more in the first two days. Sanitary pads and tampons can be used to absorb menstrual fluid, ie bleeding. Both sanitary pads and tampons need to be changed regularly at intervals of no more than 4 hours. The use of tampons when not changed regularly is a risk factor for toxic shock syndrome.

Follicular Phase

The follicular phase begins after menstruation and ends with ovulation. Estrogen level rises. With the secretion of FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone) by the pituitary gland stimulated by the hypothalamus in the brain, an average of 5-20 follicles begin to mature in the ovaries. However, a single egg reaches maturity to enable fertilization. If more than one follicle matures and fertilizes, a multiple pregnancy results. The growth and development of the follicle stimulates the thickening and vascularization of the uterine wall against the possibility of pregnancy. In addition, if it is desired to have a child, but this does not happen, in cases where pregnancy does not occur, one should not be worried. With many good IVF centers , the process of getting pregnant has become easier than before. 


It is the ejection of the mature egg from the ovary. It usually happens in the middle of the cycle. Ovulation occurs within two days with the rise of LH (Luteinizing Hormone) hormone. The egg is released into the fallopian canal towards the uterus. The average life span of the egg is 24 hours. It dies as long as it does not unite with a sperm every 24 hours, that is, fertilization does not occur.

Luteal Phase

While the egg is ejected, the follicle in which the egg develops continues to remain in the ovary. After the egg is released, the follicle turns into a structure called the corpus luteum. It begins to secrete mainly progesterone. This hormone ensures that the thickness of the uterus continues and the fertilized egg attaches to the uterus (implantation). However, if fertilization does not occur, the corpus luteum loses its function within a week. When there is no progesterone level to maintain the thickness of the uterus, the uterus wall breaks down and bleeding occurs. This happens on the first day of the next cycle and the menstrual cycle starts again.

What is the Normal of the Menstrual Cycle?

Although the length of the menstrual cycle can vary from woman to woman, the normal length is considered to be 21 to 35 days. It is considered normal for menstruation (menstrual bleeding) to last between 2 and 7 days. In the first few years after menarche, it’s normal for cycles to be irregular and last longer. In the course of time, menstrual cycles become more regular.

Menstrual cycles can be at regular intervals or at variable intervals, with or without pain, mild or severe. Although these features also vary from woman to woman, situations that do not affect the daily life of the woman and do not cause discomfort are considered normal. Birth control pills, which are frequently preferred among birth control methods, and intrauterine devices (IUDs), also known as spirals, can affect the menstrual cycle. As women approach menopause, their menstrual cycles become more irregular. It is recommended for every woman to keep track of her menstrual cycles on the calendar.

Common Menstrual Problems

Some of the common problems associated with the menstrual cycle are as follows:

  • Premenstrual Syndrome  (PMS):  About 10 days before the menstrual period starts, some conditions such as edema, headache, swelling, behavioral changes, fatigue, depression and irritability are triggered due to hormonal changes in some women. It is thought to be seen in 90% of women. It can be recommended to exercise and eat healthy in order to eliminate the negativities experienced during the PMS period.
  • Dysmenorrhea (menstrual pains):  It means that menstrual periods are painful. It may occur due to excessive contraction of the uterus with the effect of some hormones, as well as due to factors such as fibroids and polyps. Dysmenorrhea can be treated in different ways, depending on the underlying cause.
  • Severe Menstrual Bleeding (menorrhagia):  It refers to the situation where the amount of bleeding is so much that it affects the daily life of the person. If left untreated, it can lead to anemia. In order to control the bleeding, the underlying factor should be determined and treatment should be arranged according to the focus.
  • Amenorrhea: It  is the absence of menstruation for 3 consecutive months. The prepubertal period is considered abnormal, except during pregnancy, lactation (breastfeeding), and postmenopausal periods. The most common causes are excessive weight loss and excessive exercise.
  • Irregular menstrual cycle:  It is considered normal for the menstrual cycle to last between 21-35 days. Menstrual cycles lasting less than 21 days or longer than 35 days are considered irregular. There are many reasons why menstrual cycles are irregular. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, eating disorders, excessive weight loss, excessive exercise, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premature ovarian failure, pelvic inflammatory diseases are the most common causes of irregular menstrual cycle. Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common endocrine system disorder.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Menstrual Cycle

Is it normal to have an odor during menstruation?

During the menstrual period, the odor occurs when the menstrual fluid comes into contact with the air. Menstrual fluid absorbed by the tampon and sanitary pad does not cause odor. To avoid odor, sanitary pads and tampons should be changed frequently at intervals of no more than 4 hours.

How long do women menstruate?

The end of menstrual cycles means menopause. The average age of women at menopause in Turkey is 47 years.

How much blood is lost during menstruation?

Women with a normal menstrual cycle lose approximately 60 ml of blood each menstrual period. However, the body compensates for this.

What are the most common menstrual symptoms?

Every woman may experience her menstrual period differently. 90% of women of reproductive age experience both physical and emotional changes with the menstrual period. The most common symptoms are menstrual cramps, acne, anxiety, bloating, changes in appetite, constipation, breast tenderness, depression, irritability, and insomnia.

Can women get pregnant during menstruation?

The probability of pregnancy occurring in the first 2 days of menstrual bleeding is almost non-existent. However, no menstrual symptoms, including bleeding, are specific to menstruation. For example, fertilization may occur during periods of what is known as breakthrough bleeding. For this reason, it is extremely important to follow the menstrual cycle regularly. If your menstrual cycle is different from the normal menstrual cycle duration, severity, bleeding time and seriously affects your daily life, you should definitely consult a gynecologist.

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