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Complete Guide to the Menstrual Cycle Phases

The menstrual cycle is a natural change that occurs every month in the female reproductive organs. Menstruation occurs when the endometrial lining and unfertilized egg cells shed and exit through the vagina. Let's learn more about the normal menstrual cycle, its signs, and the causes of irregular menstruation through the following article.

Easy Way to Calculate the Menstrual Cycle

Apart from planning a pregnancy, tracking the menstrual cycle is important for every woman who has entered puberty. The way to calculate the menstrual cycle is to record the first day of menstruation until the first day of the next menstruation. The point is to find out whether their cycle is normal or not. 

The normal menstrual cycle occurs at intervals of 21-35 days and can last for 2-7 days. However, every woman has a different menstrual cycle. Although it rarely indicates a serious problem, an irregular menstrual cycle can be an indication of certain health problems. 

Therefore, it is important for women to monitor their menstrual cycle regularly. This way, they can immediately consult medical personnel if they find significant irregularities, to ensure their reproductive health is maintained.

Watch more in the video “Formula for Calculating the Menstrual Cycle"

Phases in the Menstrual Cycle

Menstruation is a natural cycle which is divided into four main phases, namely menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal phases. This phase in the menstrual cycle has an important role in women's reproductive health. The following is a detailed explanation.

1. Menstrual Phase

During the menstrual phase, the uterine wall or endometrium will decay, causing blood and mucus to come out through the vagina. This phase usually lasts 3–7 days and is an important part of a woman's menstrual cycle. During this period, a woman's body experiences significant hormonal changes, which can affect her physical and emotional condition. It is important to understand this process thoroughly in order to provide appropriate support and maintain optimal reproductive health.

2. Follicular Phase

The follicular phase is an important stage in the menstrual cycle, starting from the first day of menstruation and lasting 11–27 days. During the follicular phase, the ovaries form follicles that contain immature egg cells. This process not only allows follicular development but also stimulates thickening of the endometrial lining, which is important in preparation for potential pregnancy. In-depth knowledge of the follicular phase is essential for health professionals to understand the dynamics of the menstrual cycle and provide appropriate care.

3. Ovulation Phase

The Ovulation Phase is an important period in a woman's menstrual cycle, where the ovaries release mature eggs. This egg is ready to be fertilized by sperm in the fallopian tube. If fertilization does not occur, the egg will fuse within 24 hours after the ovulation phase, which is marked by the discharge of cervical mucus from the vagina. Typically, the ovulation phase occurs on days 12 to 14 of the menstrual cycle, making it a crucial time for couples planning a pregnancy. Understanding the Ovulation Phase is very important for fertility management and reproductive health. 

4. Luteal Phase

In the luteal phase, the egg cell turns into the corpus luteum which releases reproductive hormones, triggering thickening of the uterine wall. If fertilization does not occur, the corpus luteum shrinks and is reabsorbed by the uterus, causing a decrease in reproductive hormone levels and shedding of the uterine wall. The luteal phase usually lasts 11–17 days and often causes symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This process is an important part of the menstrual cycle, showing how the body naturally prepares for the possibility of pregnancy and adapts when fertilization does not occur.

Read More: Intercourse in Sexual Relations: Definition & Stages

Hormones that Influence the Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

Menstruation is basically a natural process that occurs in women, where the menstrual cycle is divided into several phases which are influenced by five types of hormones in the body. Hormones that influence the phases of this cycle include estrogen, progesterone, FSH, LH, and gonadotropin hormones.

1. Estrogen

The hormone estrogen produced in the ovaries has a very important role, especially in the ovulation process. Apart from that, this hormone also plays a significant role in changes in a teenager's body during puberty, and is involved in the re-formation of the uterine lining after the menstrual period. Thus, the hormone estrogen plays a crucial role in various aspects of reproductive health and development of the female body.

2. Progesterone

The hormone progesterone works together with estrogen to play an important role in maintaining the reproductive cycle and pregnancy. Produced in the ovaries, this hormone helps thicken the uterine wall, preparing the optimal environment for embryo implantation. The synergy between the hormones progesterone and estrogen ensures hormonal balance which is essential for women's reproductive health. Through its role, this hormone supports the continuation of pregnancy and prevents uterine contractions which can interfere with fetal development.

3. FSH

Follicle stimulating hormone (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) has a vital role in the female reproductive system. Produced in the pituitary gland which is located at the bottom of the brain, this hormone functions to mature egg cells in the ovaries until they are ready to be released. This maturation process is essential for the menstrual cycle and fertility, ensuring that the egg can be fertilized and develop into a healthy embryo.

4. LH

LH (Luteinizing Hormone) is produced in the pituitary gland and plays an important role in the female reproductive system. Just like the hormone FSH, LH stimulates the ovaries to release eggs during the menstrual cycle. LH also contributes to the formation of the corpus luteum which produces progesterone, an essential hormone to prepare the uterus for a possible pregnancy. Optimal LH function is crucial for reproductive health and hormonal balance in a woman's body.

5. Gonadotropin

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) is a hormone produced in the brain, specifically in the hypothalamus. GnRH plays an important role in stimulating the pituitary gland to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These two hormones are very important in the process of maturation and release of egg cells, which is an integral part of the female reproductive cycle. Thus, GnRH plays a crucial role in the regulation of reproductive function.

Signs of an Abnormal Menstrual Cycle

Abnormal menstruation occurs when the menstrual cycle is irregular or inconsistent every month. Even though menstruation that comes a little late or earlier than the usual cycle is still considered normal, there are several conditions that need attention. The menstrual cycle is considered abnormal if: 

  • Menstruation occurs less than 21 days or more than 35 days between cycles 
  • Not having menstruation for three or more periods in a row
  • Menstrual blood that is much more or less than usual
  • Menstruation lasts more than seven days, and the variation in the length of time between cycles is more than nine days. For example, one cycle lasts 28 days, the next cycle 37 days, and the next cycle 29 days 
  • Menstruation accompanied by severe pain, cramps, nausea, or vomiting, 
  • Bleeding or spotting occurs between menstrual periods, after menopause, or after sexual intercourse
  • The volume of blood that comes out can fill one or more tampons or pads in one hour

If you experience one of these conditions, it is recommended to consult a medical professional to get the right treatment.

Read More: Causes of the Vagina Turning Dark and Solutions

Reasons Your Menstrual Cycle Is Abnormal

There are many things that cause the menstrual cycle to become abnormal, ranging from suffering from a medical condition to using certain medications. Other causes of abnormal menstrual cycles include hormonal changes, stress, poor diet, and being overweight. This is the explanation.

1. Certain Medical Conditions

Some health problems that can cause abnormal menstrual cycles are: 

  • Endometriosis: which occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus.
  • PCOS: a condition when the ovaries produce large amounts of androgen hormones, preventing ovulation and making menstruation irregular. 
  • Pelvic Inflammation: a bacterial infection condition that can affect the female reproductive system. 
  • Cancer: such as uterine cancer and ovarian cancer, are also one of the causes of abnormal menstrual cycles. 
  • Diabetes: Due to an imbalance in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, even people with type 1 diabetes are at high risk of experiencing premature menopause.
  • Cushing Syndrome: where abnormal menstrual cycles occur due to hypercortisolemic inhibition at the hypothalamic level. This particular medical condition is very influential on women's reproductive health and it is important to get the right diagnosis and treatment from professional medical personnel. 

The causes of abnormal menstrual cycles must be understood so that they can be treated properly and reduce the risk of further complications.

2. Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can impact the menstrual cycle. There are several lifestyles that trigger this problem, such as: 

  • Being in a vulnerable situation/environment triggers stress 
  • Weight loss or gain 
  • Excessive exercise
  • Unhealthy eating patterns 
  • Irregular sleeping habits
  • Alcohol consumption and smoking 

Therefore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise and good stress management is very important to support women's reproductive health.

3. Consuming Certain Medicines

The use of certain drugs to treat health problems can also cause menstrual cycle disorders. Such as the use of steroids or blood thinners, some antidepressant drugs, drugs to control blood pressure, and chemotherapy can also affect the stability of hormones in the body. 

It is important for patients to consult a doctor before starting or stopping use of certain medications, especially if they experience significant changes in their menstrual cycle. The doctor can provide appropriate advice and may adjust the dosage or find safer treatment alternatives to maintain hormonal balance and overall health.

4. Other Causes

There are several other causes that disrupt the menstrual cycle, such as the use of birth control pills, surgery on the ovaries, a history of miscarriage, and an increase in the hormone prolactin in breastfeeding mothers. Apart from that, experiencing mental health disorders can also be an influencing factor. Signs of menopause that are starting to appear are also often another cause. It is important to identify the specific cause so that appropriate treatment can be carried out. Consultation with professional medical personnel is highly recommended to obtain an accurate diagnosis and appropriate solution.

Menstrual phases usually occur regularly every month. However, if you experience an irregular menstrual cycle, menstruation for more than 7 days, or no menstruation for 3 consecutive months, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor. Proper examination and treatment is very important to prevent the potential for more serious health problems in the future. 


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