OvariesEach month, non pregnant woman, who ovulate have what is known as a menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle happens when a egg doesn't become fertile. The body has to shed the lining of the endometrial wall. A new one is produce after the shedding of the old lining, as long as the woman is fertile. When the lining is shed, it breaks down and is expelled out of a woman's body in the form of a blood like discharge known as a period.

Many woman experience their first menstrual cycle in their preteen years, usually around the age of 12. However, some girls start becoming fertile as early as 9, and others will not start until the age of 17. If a girl has not started by the age of 14 or 15, it's best to consult a physician. Mothers and fathers should prepare their children for the changes that will occur during puberty. It is very beneficial to keep open means of communication, so children will feel comfortable to discuss their concerns with their parents, rather than peers. Woman usually stop having a menstrual cycle during their 40s or 50s. Some women must have hysterectomies due to health issues before reaching this stage, which is called menopause. A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that will remove the female reproductive organs and will stop their menstrual cycle.

Although many women's cycles vary by several days, a menstrual cycle is most commonly refer to as a 28 day cycle. Many women will keep up with their one personal cycles using calendars to get a feel of how long their personal cycle is. This usually has to be tracked for several months to get a more accurate calculation, but it still can differ.

Menstrual Phase

The menstrual phase is a sign that a woman is not pregnant. During this stage, a period will take place where the lining is expelled through a discharge. This usually last for 5 to 7 days. However, some woman's will last for 10 days or more, while others will only be for 2 or 3 days. This discharge will be a mixture of blood and tissue. Although it is really not a large amount, it seems like more. During or right before this phase of the menstrual cycle, women can experience cramps, discomfort and headaches. A woman will usually use a sanitary pad or tampon during this time to catch the released blood.

Preovulation Phase

The preovulation phase begins about the same time that the period ends. This phase last about a week, during which the follicle-stimulation hormone is released from the pituitary gland. This FSH hormone travels through the bloodstream and tells the ovaries to begin the process of maturing about twenty of the primary ovarian follicles. These are already existing in the thousands when a girl is born in each ovary. With the help of the FSH hormone, these follicles mature and release estrogen. The estrogen hormone directs the endometrium to begin the development of the vascular wall. Once the follicle-stimulation hormone decreases, the pituitary gland begins preparing for the hormone necessary to ovulate. This hormone is called luteinizing hormone or LH for short.

Ovulation Phase

For the days right before ovulation, one set of the primary follicles will reach full maturity. Then the Graafian follicle will move near the surface of the ovary. The release of the LH will occur, and the Graafian follicle will bursts to release the mature egg. For women who experience a normal 28 day cycle, this will roughly be around the 14th day into the cycle. However, all women differ. This should always happen 14 days before a woman's period, no matter how long a woman's actual cycle is. This is why it can be helpful to chart dates for several months and get an average. The egg is captured in the fallopian tubes. If the eggs is fertilized in the next 24 to 36 hours by sperm, pregnancy will be the result. If not the egg will be absorbed by the body and a pregnancy will not result.

Postovulation Phase

After an ovulation the postovulation phase begins. The Graafian follicle will restructure into a corpus luteum. This will remain on the inside of the ovary, releasing estrogen and progesterone. If the egg was fertilized the corpus luteum is over estrogen and progesterone levels within the entire pregnancy. If pregnancy was not a result of ovulation, increased levels of progesterone will signal the pituitary to decease the LH. Then the corpus luteum begins to cease about day 24. When the estrogen and progesterone decrease significantly, around day 28, this begins the menstrual phase and the cycle begins again.

During the postovulation phase women can experience PMS, Premenstrual Syndrome. This can be mild, extreme to almost non existing. Some women experience this every month, while others will only experience it at random, and then some lucky ones never have any noticeable symptoms. Many of the symptoms women experience include headache, fatigue, irritability, depression, acne, tender breast, cramps and bloating. Some more serious symptoms include asthma, epilepsy and fainting. Some women can get by with mild symptoms, while others with more extreme symptoms might need an over the counter product, and even some will need medications prescribed by their physicians. Women should discuss these problems and concerns with their doctor. For natural, alternative methods of reducing this symptoms, there is dietary modifications by reducing and/or eliminating caffeine and salt. Other benefactors include yoga, exercise and vitamin B6. Heating pads can help reduce the pain of cramping, as well as a warm bath.

Woman who do not have a period for more than 3 months should consult a physician. Be aware that tampon users have an increased change of developing toxic shock syndrom. Developments have been made to reduce these chances, but they are still present. Any woman who notices any changes should seek advice from a medical professional. Painful pregnancy that occurs can be due to a tubal pregnancy, and this requires medical attention. The writer of this article is not a doctor and this is just a description of what happened during the menstrual cycle and should not be taken as medical advice.