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The menstrual cycle


What is the menstrual cycle?


The menstrual cycle is the time from the first day of a period through to the next period.

This can vary for each woman but are usually between 21 to 40 days.


During the menstrual cycle the hormone oestrogen causes the ovary to produce and release an egg. This is called ovulation and happens roughly 2 weeks before your period if you do not conceive.


The hormone progesterone helps the lining of your uterus to thicken to be ready for a fertilised egg to implant.


If pregnancy has not occurred then the hormone levels drop and thickened lining starts to shed and release from the body in the form of a period (menstruation).


The lifetime of an egg and fertility


Each month, 1 egg is formed and released from the ovary. The egg lives for only 24 hours.

However, sperm can survive for 7 days so there may be slightly higher chance of conceiving if you didn't have intercourse on the day your egg was released. Ovulation happens roughly 2 weeks before your period.


Changes to your body


You may notice during your menstrual cycle that your body changes in different ways.


You may experience bloating, low moods, sore breasts, and abdominal cramping just before your period.


Your vaginal discharge may change to a clear discharge (similar to raw egg white) around the time of ovulation.


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