The menstrual cycle is crucial to understanding fertility! Although cycles differ for everyone, the accepted definition of a “normal” cycle length is 21-35 days from first day of full flow, or “cycle day 1,’’ to the next cycle day 1. Bleeding may last from 2-7 days.
During the first half of the cycle, called the follicular phase, levels of estrogen rise with the growth of a “dominant” follicle, or fluid-filled cyst that contains an immature egg. The increasing estrogen causes the lining of the uterus (endometrial lining) to thicken. The length of the follicular phase can vary.
Ovulation occurs around cycle day 14 in a 28-day cycle and refers to the release of a mature egg, ready to be fertilized by sperm!
The second half of the menstrual cycle, after ovulation occurs, is called the luteal phase. This phase is more consistent in length – about 14 days. During this half of the cycle, progesterone is produced by the collapsed follicle that ovulated an egg (corpus luteum). A progesterone level over 3ng/ml indicates that ovulation has occurred. If the egg is not fertilized by sperm, progesterone levels drop, and the endometrial lining sheds (i.e. your next period).
It’s a good idea to talk to your gynecologist if your periods change significantly in length, duration, or amount of bleeding, or if you have bleeding between periods. If after speaking with your gyn and are ready to move on to other fertility solutions, please contact us and we will help you with a diagnosis and treatment plan. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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