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The menstrual cycle: different phases

  1. A cycle is a period that keeps returning, in which certain events take place. The menstrual cycle is a good example of this. About every month women of childbearing age have periods and ovulation. Which phases do you go through during such a cycle? When are you most fertile and when do you get your period?

  1. A menstrual cycle lasts an average of 28 days. The exact length varies per woman, from about 23 to 35 days. You count from the first day of your period: the first day of the cycle is the first day of your period. The last day of the cycle is the day before your next period. A menstrual cycle consists of several phases.

Average menstrual cycle

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Menstrual phase

  1. The menstrual or bleeding phase occurs when no fertilized egg has implanted in the uterine lining. In other words, if you are not pregnant. Your body sheds the built-up endometrium and the unfertilized egg. That causes blood loss for two to eight days.

Follicular phase

  1. The brain releases the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This causes follicles to mature in an ovary. Follicles are vesicles containing egg cells. They produce the hormone estrogen. Estrogen causes the uterine lining to grow and thicken. This prepares the uterus for the arrival of a fertilized egg.


  1. One follicle comes to full development. When it is a certain size, the brain receives a signal that causes it to release the luteinizing hormone (LH). 36-48 hours after that, ovulation (ovulation) takes place. The follicle bursts open and the mature egg passes through the fallopian tube to the uterus. There, the egg can be fertilized by a sperm, causing you to become pregnant. Ovulation takes place on average 14 days before menstruation.

Fertile days?

  1. You can get pregnant not only during ovulation, but also in the days before. Sperm cells survive in the uterus for a few days. Most pregnancies occur after sex in the six days prior to ovulation.

Luteal phase

  1. The follicle left behind (now called the yellow body) will produce progesterone. This prepares the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg.

Pregnancy or menstruation again If the egg is not fertilized, or if the fertilized egg does not implant, the egg and the built-up endometrium are rejected. You have your period. The cycle starts all over again. If the egg is fertilized and it settles in the endometrium, a pregnancy occurs. The development of the placenta and the production of the pregnancy hormone HCG begins. Don't miss anything?

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