Period math can be confusing. Most women might not be aware of the menstrual cycle phases in entirety, due to which they might not make attempts to do the math to find out what the duration of their cycle is, when they are most likely to be ovulating etc.
While more often, women who have regular periods make do with remembering the date of their last period and expect Aunt Flo to make appearance thereabouts.
However, it is when women are trying to have a baby, and conversely, when they are trying to avoid having a baby, that they have to do the period math to find their most fertile days.
It might be slightly trickier for women who have irregular periods, as they cannot predict their cycle. In such cases, it is best to visit the Best Gynecologist in Lahore as an irregular cycle might be a sign of underlying health problem.
Nonetheless, knowing the phases of the menstrual cycle is important for all women!
First the basics
Menstruation lasts from puberty to menopause. It represents the fertile period in the life of a woman. The menstrual cycle has one salient purpose, which is enabling reproduction.
The cycle starts from the first day of your periods and ends when the next period begins. The duration of the cycle can vary from female to female, but it generally spans 28 to 35 days, with exceptions, of course. The duration of the cycle can also vary from month to month as well.
The menstrual cycle is carefully regulated by the female hormones, and majorly involves the uterus and the ovaries. It can be divided into 4 phases:
The first step in the cycle is menstruation. It basically occurs when there is no fertilization, so the uterus does not have to prepare for the fetus. Therefore, it sheds off its endometrial layer, that thickened in preparation for the baby, and blood. These are then passed out via the vagina.
Symptoms that accompany this phase, apart from the bleeding, include cramps, changes in bowel habits, tenderness in breasts, backache, fatigue, headaches, bloating and mood swings. On average, this phase lasts for around 8 days, but can be smaller as well.
Running in tandem with the menstrual phase is the follicular phase. The former transpires in the uterus, while the latter occurs in the ovaries. In this phase, brain signals the release of follicle stimulating hormone, FSH.
FSH helps in stimulating the release of follicles, which are fluid filled sacs that contain immature eggs. Each month, 5-20 follicles are stimulated, but one or two—rarely — mature into an egg, whereas the rest are reabsorbed into the body. This phase can last from 10 to 22 days.
Ovulation phase occurs at the mid-point of the cycle; for people with 28-day regular cycle, ovulation occurs at day 14. It basically signals the release of the egg. If there is sperm present in the uterus, this egg can then be fertilized.
Egg remains viable for around 24 hours, whereas sperm can remain in the uterus for a few days. If you don’t want to have a baby, you should avoid having sex during this fertile window, and vice versa. If there is no fertilization, egg will be dissolved into the body
The follicle that once contained the egg transforms in corpus luteum and helps with hormonal changes in the body. This phase marks the infamous PMS symptoms that include water retention, mood problems, cravings, sleep issues etc.
If no fertilization has occurred, then the hormones that trigger the period increase, thereby transitioning the cycle in phase one.
However, if the egg has been fertilized, then there will be a surge in hCG levels, the presence of which helps you or the Best Gynecologist in Karachi ascertain if you are pregnant.