Menstrual Cycle

Each month your reproductive hormones cause the uterine lining to thicken and prepare for possible pregnancy. The rising levels of hormones also cause the cervix to produce thinner cervical mucus, making it easier for sperm to successfully pass into the uterus.

About midway through your monthly cycle, an egg is released by one of your ovaries. This process is called ovulation. If the egg becomes fertilized by a sperm, it moves into the uterus, implants within the uterine lining, and develops into a fetus. If pregnancy does not occur, the hormones taper off, and the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is eventually shed as your monthly cycle bleeding.

Your monthly period is the shedding of the lining of the uterus; it usually lasts from five to seven days. The first day of bleeding is referred to as day 1 of your cycle. The average menstrual cycle lasts approximately 28 days but may vary from 23 to 35 days and still be considered normal. Here is a summary of important menstrual cycle events:

Day 1 The first day of your menstrual period is considered day 1 of your cycle.

Day 5 Hormones signal your endometrium to thicken and prepare for a possible pregnancy.

Day 14 Ovulation occurs. This means that an egg is released from an ovary and moves into a fallopian tube.

Day 28 If the egg was not fertilized, hormones have dropped and endometrium is shed.

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