All older women know the basics of having a menstrual cycle. However, younger women who have just started to menstruate may be interested in knowing more about the specifics attached to theirs. Also known as a period, a woman’s menstrual cycle is in a nutshell controlled by a delicate, but regular series of hormonal events, each a different part of either preparing the body for pregnancy or working to reset the reproduction system to try again the following month.

A woman’s first period – also called menarche – is naturally a very important time in her life. Many girls see this as the event that marks the end of girlhood and the beginning of womanhood at long last. However, the beginning of your menstrual cycle can also produce a fair degree of anxiety as well. As a result, many girls have mixed emotions about finally becoming menstruating women and understandably so.


A Closer Look at the Female Menstrual Cycle

The average menstrual cycle length is roughly 28 days (4 weeks). The first week of your cycle is the week you have your period. During the second week your body is preparing your ovary to release an egg, which happens approximately one week after the end of your period. After that point, one of two things will happen. Either fertilizing intercourse will occur and the fertilized ovum will then attach to the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) or the unfertilized egg will break down along with the endometrium. The sloughing off of the blood and nutrient-rich endometrium is what you know as your period. Although it can often seem like much more, the average woman releases about 2 ounces (0.06 liters) of menstrual fluid during her period.


What to Expect from Your Menstrual Cycle

As a young woman’s body is going through a lot of fascinating but confusing changes around the time she gets her first period, it can take a while for her to become really regular as far as her future periods go. It’s not at all uncommon to get your first period and then not really get another one for several months. You may also find that some months your periods come sooner rather than later or are heavier sometimes than other times. Eventually, you’ll find that your body gets the hang of things and settles into a consistent 28-day schedule that is much more predictable. However, if you are ever unsure of whether or not something is normal, you can always ask your doctor for more information.

Starting to menstruate for the first time is no doubt an exciting event. However, it can be an event that brings to mind many questions and concerns as well.

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