A woman’s menstrual cycle is the process of her reproductive system readying itself for the implantation of a fertilized egg, leading to pregnancy and the birth of a baby nine months later. The normal cycle ranges from about 21 to 35 days, with the average cycle length lasting 28 days before the woman begins her menstrual flow. Medical professionals count the first day of the cycle as the first day of a woman’s period to the first day of the next month’s period.
During the first half of a woman’s cycle, her estrogen levels begin increasing. This hormone helps the lining of the uterus grow and thicken in preparation for a fertilized egg. While the lining is growing, an ovum is maturing, preparing for ovulation, or leaving the ovary. Once the ovum has left the ovary, it moves through a fallopian tube down to the uterus. As this is happening, hormone levels begin to increase, preparatory to a possible pregnancy. If fertilization does not take place, the uterine lining falls apart, the woman’s hormone levels fall back down and the lining of the uterus is shed, resulting in a menstrual period.
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