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The Basics on Your Monthly Menstrual Cycle

Your monthly menstrual cycle is something every girl should come to understand! Get the basics about your menstrual cycle.

First things first: All women have different menstrual cycles. Whether you’re waiting for your first period or have been getting them for a while, just know that your cycle is most likely on a different schedule than your friends’ or moms.

Menstrual Cycle Monthly Timing

In your cycle, “day one” is the first day of your period, or the first day you begin to bleed. Your cycle starts over at the beginning of your next period.

This may come as a surprise, but your “monthly” menstrual cycle doesn’t always take place once a month. Although the average menstrual cycle is 28 days, your cycle could be anywhere from 21 to 35 days.

If you have a short cycle, you may have a period more often than once a month. On that note, if your cycle lasts longer, you’ll probably get fewer periods in a year.

How Hormones Control Your Cycle

OK — get ready for some serious health class talk.

Your reproductive system goes through a pattern that’s controlled by rising and falling levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Rising levels of hormones cause the ovary to develop an egg and release it, a phase called ovulation. After ovulation, hormones help the lining of the uterus grow thicker in case you get pregnant.

Each month, an egg is released by one of the ovaries and travels down the fallopian tube. If you don’t get pregnant, the egg leaves your body with your menstrual flow.

The levels of estrogen and progesterone fall and the lining of the uterus leave the body. This is your period (also known as menses).

Phew. That wasn’t too bad, was it?

If you want to learn more, read about the phases of your menstrual cycle.


The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Patient brochure 041

ACOG, Factsheet: Toolkit for Teen Care, 2nd Edition

ACOG, Medical Student Education Module 2008

Comprehensive Gynecology Review, 3rd edition; editors, Ling FW, Vontver LA, Smith RP

Bloom and Fawcett: A Textbook of Histology, 11th edition, by Don W. Fawcett

Emans, Laufer, Goldstein's Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 4th edition, by S. Jean Emans and Marc R. Laufer

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