Understanding You Understand your menstruation period cycle
Although every woman's menstrual cycle is different – some as short as 23 days, others as long as 35 days - there’s a basic sequence of events that occurs in every woman.
By tracking this sequence you can work out the length of your cycle, and establish if there’s a pattern to the ups and downs you may feel physically and emotionally. Your Body Diary is a simple, free online tool that can help you track your symptoms and take control of how you feel.
Your cycle is based on a delicate balance of two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. The levels of these hormones change as your cycle progresses.
Day 1: Your period
The first day of your period is considered Day 1 of your cycle. At this time, oestrogen and progesterone, the two main reproductive hormones, are at low levels. During this phase, some women experience symptoms such as painful or unusually heavy periods.
Approximately Day 5: One egg starts to develop
This is the first day after your period finishes. Inside the ovary, each egg is surrounded by a layer of cells called a follicle. As an individual egg develops, the follicle releases increasing amounts of oestrogen.
Approximately Days 6-14: Preparing for ovulation
Toward the end of this stage, oestrogen levels drop slightly and levels of progesterone and hormones called androgens, such as testosterone, are low and then increase at the end of this stage. An increase in androgen levels within a woman’s body can result in increased acne between day 14 and day 28.
Approximately Day 14: Ovulation
The follicle surrounding the egg breaks open and the ovaries release the egg into the fallopian tube so it can be fertilised by sperm.
Approximately 15-28: After ovulation
If the egg that was released is not fertilised, oestrogen and progesterone levels drop and the lining of the uterus gets ready to be shed. This is the stage many women experience both physical and emotional premenstrual symptoms such as mood swings, bloating and irritability. At the end of this stage, your next period begins and the cycle starts again.