– Menstrual cycle: 4 phases over 28 days
– Menstrual cycle: fertilization disrupts the cycle
– Menstrual cycle: changes in the entire female reproductive system
– Regulating births by observing menstrual cycles
Contraception is the set of means to avoid pregnancy. The menstrual cycle is the set of hormonal and physiological variations that allow a woman to conceive.
The functioning of hormonal contraceptive methods, such as the pill, and natural methods, such as the Ogino or Billings methods, affect the menstrual cycle. It modifies or short-circuits it.
Menstrual cycle: 4 phases over 28 days
The menstrual cycle begins with the first menstrual period, in girls, at the time of puberty. These cycles stop at menopause.
A menstrual cycle lasts, in theory, 28 days but can be irregular. It is composed of 4 phases:
– The menstrual phase (5 days): the first day of the cycle corresponds to the first day of menstruation. The endometrium, which lines the uterus during menstruation, is shed with blood.
– The follicular phase (9 days): in the ovary, the ovarian follicles (which contain the oocyte) mature under the action of the hormones FSH and LH. They produce estrogens, which thicken and vascularize the endometrium.
– The ovulatory phase (4 days): one of the ovarian follicles ejects the oocyte into the fallopian tube:
◦ the rest of the ovarian follicle, now called the corpus luteum, breaks down, producing estrogen and progesterone;
◦ these two hormones continue to thicken the endometrium.
– The luteal phase (10 days): the corpus luteum is almost degraded; it produces less and less hormones. The endometrium degenerates because the rate of hormones decreases, which causes menstruation.
Menstrual cycle: fertilization upsets the cycle
Menstrual cycles repeat in a loop. When fertilization occurs, the cycles are interrupted.
The oocyte (egg) is ejected during the ovulatory phase. If it meets a spermatozoon, the luteal stage is disrupted.
The fertilized oocyte, now an egg, nests in the endometrium of the uterus. It then produces hormones that maintain the corpus luteum and prevent the endometrium from degenerating.
The implanted egg develops in the uterus, resulting in an embryo and a fetus.
Menstrual cycle: changes in the entire female reproductive system
The female menstrual cycle also affects several other aspects of a woman’s physiology:
– Cervical mucus: this is secretions at the cervix.
◦ It is thick and viscous in the follicular and luteal phases. It is abundant, transparent, and more liquid just before and during ovulation to allow the passage of spermatozoa.
◦ The Billings method is based on observation of cervical mucus.
– Body temperature:
◦ The temperature rises slightly during the post-ovulatory phase when the woman is no longer fertile.
◦ Contraception based on this fact is the temperature method.
◦ The opening of the cervix is constricted during the follicular and luteal phases.
◦ It widens during the ovulatory phase to promote the passage of sperm.
◦ Touch observation of the cervix can be a method of contraception.
Regulate births based on the observation of menstrual cycles.
The best natural contraception is obtained by crossing the three observations, mucus, temperature, and cervix, to determine the day of ovulation.
Once the time of ovulation has been determined, sexual intercourse should be avoided 5 days before and 3 days after.
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