For a woman, to know about the inner workings of her reproductive system is important because it indicates good health and wellbeing in more ways than one. Understanding the phases of menstrual cycle to see that all is working as well as it should be, is as important an indication of good health – not just reproductive and sexual health but overall systemic wellbeing.
A normal, healthy and regular menstrual cycle is viewed as a “vital sign” of general health and wellbeing. According to experts, normal and regular phases of menstrual cycle indicate various different things such as a woman’s heart health, the status of bone health, ovarian health, and long term fertility as well.
The negative impact of irregular or absent menstruation is not even fully understood but the effects on long term health and fertility could be very significant indeed, agree researchers.
So not only is it important for a woman to be well acquainted with her own menstrual cycle, it is also vital that any disturbance or unusual occurrence be reported and investigated.
To be properly familiar with one’s own cycle, the phases of menstrual cycle should be understood based on a usual 28 day cycle that the average woman has:
The Menstrual Phase (Days 1 to 4/5)
A woman’s cycle is always calculated by counting the first day of the period as Day 1 of the cycle. So the start of a woman’s monthly bleeding is the starting day of the cycle. This phase of monthly bleeding will last for an average of 4 days though a longer or shorter duration can also be perfectly normal. This is also the time that most women experience some pain, cramping or discomfort during this menstrual phase as the uterus contracts and sheds its lining.
The Follicular or Proliferative Phase (Days 5 to 13)
In this one of the phases of menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus once again develops and grows in preparation for a possible pregnancy. Meanwhile in the ovaries as well, significant changes are ongoing as one follicle is nearing maturity and forms the ovum. Women will also notice some changes in the cervical mucus during this phase.
Ovulation (Days 13 to 16)
This is a time when the woman’s system experiences as surge in the luteinizing hormone and this stimulates the release of the egg or the mature follicle from the ovaries. The estrogen levels are highest during this phase of the menstrual cycle. Some women experience some pelvic pain or discomfort at this time, which is associated with the ovulation and often referred to as “middle pain” (mittelschmerz).
The Luteal Phase or Secretory Phase (Days 16 to 28)
After ovulation the corpus luteum is formed, which produces progesterone and the necessary changes in the uterus (and its endometrial lining) are made during this time to possibly receive a fertilized egg for implantation. This is the last of the phases of menstrual cycle when the corpus luteum continues for about 14 days. If during this time no pregnancy occurs, levels of estrogen and progesterone drop and the lining of the uterus is shed, causing the characteristic menstrual bleeding, beginning yet another menstrual cycle.