Read about your cycle
The menstrual cycle
A regular cycle indicates normal hormonal function and increases the chances of conception.
During each cycle, predictable and recurrent changes in the ovaries and uterus occur, aiming towards pregnancy.
In the ovaries, the best egg matures and becomes available for fertilization with ovulation.
In the uterus, the endometrium thickens to receive and nurture the fertilized egg.
The ‘menstrual cycle’ is defined as the amount of time between the first day of one period and the first day of the next period.
Its duration varies from one woman to the next, but it can also vary from cycle to cycle (in the same woman).
A typical menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days (+/- 3-5 days) and is divided into the following phases:
Period – Days 1-5 (approximately)
It is the process by which the lining of the womb is shed (since no pregnancy has occurred during the previous cycle).
The duration of the period can vary considerably from one woman to the next.
Follicular phase – Days 6-13 (in a 28-day cycle)
The duration of this phase determines in general the duration of the cycle. (i.e. when the cycle lasts more than 28 days, it is usually due to this phase having longer duration; similarly shorter cycles are usually due to shorter follicular phases).
During this phase numerous eggs begin to mature, but only one (as a rule) matures fully and is eventually released from the respective ovary (during ovulation). The lining of the womb also thickens during this phase.
Ovulation – 14th day (in a 28-day cycle)
On this day, the mature egg is released from the sac in which it is contained (the ‘follicle’) inside one of the ovaries.
The egg is then picked up by the fallopian tube where it awaits to be fertilized by a sperm for up to 36 hours.
Luteal phase – Days 15-28 (in a 28-day cycle)
Unlike the follicular phase which may have a variable duration, the luteal phase usually has a fixed duration of 14 days and lasts from the ovulation until the onset of the next period.
During this phase, hormones are produced that prepare and mature the lining of the womb (the ‘field’) for the implantation of the fertilized egg (‘the seed’).
If pregnancy occurs, hormones that prevent the start of the next period are secreted. It is then that a woman misses her period and she realizes that she’s pregnant.
If there is no pregnancy, then the lining of the womb sheds away in the form of a period and the cycle begins anew.
Therefore, ovulation does not always occur on the 14th day of the cycle, as some women believe.
Ovulation occurs 14 days before the start of the next period.
If the period comes at 28 days, ovulation occurred on day 14.
If the period comes at 32 days, ovulation occurred on day 18.
If the period comes at 24 days, ovulation occurred on day 10.
In other words, you can calculate the estimated date of your ovulation if you subtract 14 from from the duration of your cycle.
It’s that simple!