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Menstruation is the monthly discharge of endometrial tissues and blood from a woman’s vagina. Another term that is commonly used to describe menstruation is ‘a woman’s period’. Menstruation occurs as a way to prepare the body of a woman for pregnancy and it normally occurs one time each month.
Although menstruation used to begin at a much older age several years ago, a majority of girls in the United States frequently have their first period (menarche) as young as 11 or 12 years of age. There are some girls however that will get their first period as young as 9 years of age, and there are others that do not get it until they are 17 years of age. It is a time in a lot of girls’ lives that is often marked by a great deal of anxiety and pride mixed together.
A Normal Cycle of Menstruation
A woman’s menstrual cycle is a normal monthly occurrence that happens during the time she is able to reproduce. When it occurs on a regular basis, it is generally a sign that various interactions of the ovaries, hypothalamus, uterus, and anterior pituitary gland are functioning the way they should be. A normal menstrual cycle occurs due to the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. This is often referred to as the neuroendocrine feedback loop, and it is interconnected. When any type of interruption occurs within this axis, it can cause menstruation abnormalities.
The menstruation process is regulated by certain interactions of hormones in the loop, and their levels. Three main actions are governed by these hormones and they include the following:
The ovaries release of an egg.
The preparation that occurs within the lining of the uterus (endometrium), getting it ready for pregnancy.
Shedding that occurs with uterine or endometrial tissues when the process of pregnancy does not start.
A normal cycle is 28 days. However, this can vary tremendously from one woman to the next. In some women it can also change dramatically from one month to the next. There are several factors that determine each woman’s typical cycle of menstruation. These include emotional factors, their overall nutritional health, and the condition of their physical health. The normal length of time that a woman’s period will last is between 2 and 7 days. However, a vast majority of women will have their period from about 3 to 5 days.
The Two Phases of Menstruation
The two phases of menstruation are known as the follicular phase, and the luteal phase. From day 1 to day 13 the follicular phase occurs. From day 14 to day 28 of the cycle the luteal phase occurs. Ovulation typically occurs in between these two phases, which is usually on day 13 or day 14, and is considered to be mid-cycle. This is the point in time that the ovaries release an egg, and it is also known as the shortest part of a woman’s cycle, as it will only last about one day. The sac or follicle that contains the egg (ovum will bust so it can move into the woman’s fallopian tubes. The last phase of the menstrual cycle starts immediately following the release of an egg.