The Menstrual Cycle (Episode 2)

Dr. Tash, leading fertility expert explains the phases of the menstrual cycle. Read. If you are trying to conceive, it is important to understand exactly what is happening during each phase of the menstrual cycle. Women are only fertile for a short period of time (the fertile window) during each cycle, so it is important to know when this is to enable you to have sex at the right time and maximize your chances of falling pregnant.

In this episode you will learn the following:

  • All about the menstrual cycle length, including how a cycle length is calculated in days, how many women really have the text book average 28-day cycle, the length of shorter and longer cycles, cycle length ranges considered normal and when it is advised to speak to your doctor or health care professional about lengths outside of the normal range.
  • What happens during a typical cycle.
  • How the menstrual cycle can be described as changes that occur in the uterus or changes that occur in the ovary.
  • The three phases of the ovarian cycle and what happens during each phase.
  • The three phases of the uterine cycle and what happens during each phase.
  • How knowing this can help you get pregnant faster.

About this Series

Dr Tash, leading fertility & pregnancy expert explains how to get pregnant. 1 in 6 couples struggle with getting pregnant after 12 months, this series digs deep in to how you can get pregnant naturally. Sperm and egg must meet within a small 12-24 hour window within the menstrual cycle. You will learn how you can maximize your chances of conceiving and increase your chances of getting pregnant faster.

Ovulation Calculator has produced this video series with leading fertility expert, Dr Natasha Andreadis (Dr Tash).

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Video Transcript

I'm Dr. Tash. Let's talk about the menstrual cycle and what happens with each phase.

The menstrual cycle occurs for one reason only, and that's for pregnancy to occur. It means that an egg has to be released to meet a sperm so an embryo is made and hence implanted. And hopefully, a pregnancy occurs.

When we talk about a menstrual cycle, we talk about the length, or the time between day one of bleeding to the day just before the next bleed. We call that a cycle.

Now, typically, only about 15% of women have an average 28-day cycle. Many women can have a 21-day cycle or an up to 35-day cycle. If your cycle is shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days, you should probably be speaking to your doctor.

However, if you have a cycle that's anywhere between that range, this is generally what happens during that cycle.

When we're talking about the menstrual cycle, it's important to realize that the ovary speaks to the lining of the uterus, the endometrium. Here we've got a model of a uterus and an ovary.

At the level of the ovary, there are three phases.

The first phase is what we call the follicular phase, when follicles develop.

The second phase is ovulation, when a follicle goes "pop" and an egg is released into the Fallopian tube.

The third phase is called the corpus luteal phase, or the luteal phase, where a very important organ called the corpus luteum is made to pump out lots of hormones that actually support a pregnancy.

At the same time that the ovary is going through its phases, the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, is doing its own thing as well. And it too goes through three phases.

The first phase is menstruation, when you've got a period.

The second phase is what we call the proliferative phase, when there is the growth of the lining of the uterus.

And then there is the secretory phase, which is when there's active activity to help that lining become very receptive to a pregnancy.

Knowing the menstrual cycle and the phases that are involved means that you'll have a lot more knowledge, and hence power, to fall pregnant. You'll be able to actually have sex at the right time to maximize your chances of falling pregnant.

Got a question or a comment?


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  1. Luwanna Sep 20, 2016
    How do I know if my period is coming? The last time was on Aug 18 and it lasted for 4 days
    1. Christina (OC Team): Do you know how long your cycles are? If you are trying to conceive, you should be tracking your cycles for the best result. Log the data into your account here and you will get a prediction. - (Sep 21, 2016)
  2. Gilly Dec 06, 2016
    How does someone whose cycle varies each time know how her period length? For example, mine is all over the place. This time, it will be 21 days. The next time, it'll be 22, and the next will be 24. I don't even know what to expect. It is never the same.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Irregular periods definitely make it difficult to track. You may not be able to predict your cycle length, but you can predict when you will have your next period after you have ovulated. Try using OPKs to find out when you're about to ovulate. You should have the same number of days between ovulation and your next period each cycle. This is called your luteal phase. - (Dec 07, 2016)
  3. Angela Jul 07, 2018
    my menstrual cycle is 28, my menstrual date is 2 in every month and my ovulation start from 10th.trying to conceive for 22months now but not seeing any results please I need ur help

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