How does your menstrual cycle work normally, before ovulation and after ovulation?
You may probably know quite a lot about menstrual cycle such as how often you get your periods and how heavy they are.
Women’s cycle length varies, but the most common cycle is somewhere around 23 to 35 days. Any variation in the cycle length that occurs is more likely to be at the part of the cycle before you ovulate, called the follicular phase. For most of the women, the length of the time between ovulation i.e. when the egg is released from the ovary will be between 12 to 16 days, it is called a luteal phase.
The menstrual cycle.
Your period: The first day of your menstrual cycle is the first day of a woman’s period. Then the period usually lasts from 3 to 7 days. As all the women know that if you get period pain, it happens only in the first few days itself. This happens because the hormones in your body will cause the womb to actively shed the lining that was built in your previous menstrual cycle.
Preparing for ovulation
At the beginning of the cycle, FSH is been produced from the pituitary gland in your brain. This hormone is the main hormone that is involved in stimulating the ovaries to produce mature eggs. Follicles are filled with fluid cavities in your ovaries. Each of the follicles will contain one undeveloped egg. The FSH stimulates several follicles to get developed and start to produce estrogen. The level of this hormone is at the lowest on the first day of your period. Later the follicles start to grow.
Now, while several follicles start to develop, one follicle becomes dominant and this egg will mature within the enlarging follicle. At the same time, the increasing amount of estrogen in the body makes sure that the lining of the womb is thickening. It will thicken with nutrients and blood. This happens so that, if you do not get pregnant the fertilized egg will have all the nutrients and support the growth. A high level of estrogen is also associated with the appearance of fertile cervical mucus. You could notice a thin, slippery discharge that is in cloudy white. Sperms can swim more easily through this mucus and will survive for several days.
The ovulation cycle.
The level of estrogen in your body is still increasing rapidly and will give rise to the luteinizing hormone. This LH surge causes the dominant follicle to rupture and release the egg from your ovary, from where it will enter the fallopian tube. This process is called ovulation.
Many women think that they ovulate on day 14, but most women will ovulate on different days of the menstrual cycle. Your day of ovulation will vary from cycles. Some women feel the pain while ovulating while some feel no sensation at all and there is no sign of ovulating. An accurate way to identify your fertile days to examine the changes in the key fertility hormones is using an ovulation test.
Once the egg or ovum has been released, it will travel along the fallopian tube towards your womb. The egg will survive up to 24 hours. The sperm survival is more variable, but 3 to 5 days, so the days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation are most fertile when you are most likely to get pregnant. As soon as you ovulate the follicle starts producing progesterone.
This hormone causes more build up in the lining of your womb in preparation for a fertilized egg. Meanwhile, the empty follicle will begin to shrink, but keeps on producing progesterone and also starts to produce estrogens. You may get symptoms of PMS such as breast tenderness, lethargic, bloating, depression and irritation at this stage.
Preparing for the next period
As the empty follicle shrink, if the egg is not been fertilized, levels of progesterone and estrogen decrease. Without the help of these hormones, the thick lining of the womb which has been built up starts to break down, and your body starts to shed the lining. This is your period and the net menstrual cycle.
If the egg has been fertilized, it will implant itself in the womb lining. This will take place a week after fertilization.
As soon as the fertilized egg has implanted, the body starts producing the pregnancy hormone, HCG which will keep the empty follicle active. It will continue to produce the hormone progesterone to prevent the shedding of the lining of the womb, till the placenta is mature to maintain the pregnancy.