October 20, 2017

Patient Education

Ovulation and the Normal Menstrual Cycle (Period)

Most women begin their menstrual cycle or period in their early teenage years.  For many of them, the period may be regular from very early on and for others it may take several years for this to happen.  Some women never develop a regular menstrual cycle.

A regular period means that your period occurs at about the same time every month, even if it is not exactly the same day.  It usually lasts about the same number of days every month and frequently women have other symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, increased acne, or food cravings around the same time.

Your body has a natural rhythm to regulate your menses. There are many different glands and hormones in your body that ultimately cause you to have your period.  The most important part of this process is that these hormones cause an egg in your ovary to grow and develop until it is ready to be released. This is called ovulation.

If you are not sexually active or if your egg is not fertilized within a certain number of days, your body should automatically start a period. Most often this is about 2 weeks after ovulation. 

If for any reason you do not ovulate or release an egg, your period may not start on time.  Of course, you should always check a pregnancy test if there is any possibility that you might be pregnant.  Sometimes women become irregular or don’t ovulate if they have certain medical conditions, have unusual stress in their life, or are approaching menopause.

Irregular bleeding means anything that is not part of your regular monthly period.  For example, it could mean missing or skipping one or more periods, having vaginal bleeding in between your normal period or having excessively heavy bleeding.  If you are on any type of birth control, this may also affect your period.  If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to keep track of them and then make an appointment with your doctor for a thorough evaluation in order to decide what treatment is best for you.