Normal Menstrual Cycle
What is a menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle is from Day 1 of bleeding to Day 1 of the next time of bleeding. Although the average cycle is 28 days, it is normal to have a cycle that is shorter or longer.
Girls usually start having menstrual periods between the ages of 11 and 14. Women usually start to have fewer periods between ages 39 and 51. Women in their 40s and teens may have cycles that are longer or change a lot. If you are a teen, your cycles should even out with time. If you are nearing menopause, your cycles will probably get longer and then will stop.
Talk to your doctor if you notice any big change in your cycle. It's especially important to check with your doctor if you have three or more menstrual periods that last longer than 7 days or are very heavy. Also call if you have bleeding between your periods or pelvic pain that is not from your period.
What controls the menstrual cycle?
Your hormones control your menstrual cycle. During each cycle, your brain's
A change in hormone levels can affect your cycle or fertility. For example, teens tend to have low or changing progesterone levels. This is also true for women close to menopause. That is why teens and women in their 40s may have heavy menstrual bleeding and cycles that change in length.
Other things can change your cycle. They include birth control pills, low body fat, losing a lot of weight, or being overweight. Stress or very hard exercise also can change your cycle. Pregnancy is the most common cause of a missed period.
What common symptoms are linked to the menstrual cycle?
Some women have no pain or other problems. But other women have symptoms before and during their periods.
For about a week before a period, many women have some
When your ovary releases an egg in the middle of your cycle, you may have pain in your lower belly. You also might have red spotting for less than a day. Both are normal.
How can women take care of bleeding and symptoms?
You can use pads or tampons to manage bleeding. Whichever you use, be sure to change the pad or tampon at least every 4 to 6 hours during the day. Pads may be best at night.
Many women can improve their symptoms by getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet. It also may help to limit alcohol and caffeine. Try to reduce stress.
A heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm bath also can help with cramps. You can take an over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen or naproxen before and during your period to reduce pain and bleeding.
Frequently Asked Questions
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