Thursday, May 8, 2008

What's a 'normal' menstrual cycle and what's not?

The normal menstrual cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days. So, for example, a woman with a 28-day cycle would start a period every four weeks while a woman with a 21-day cycle would start hers every three weeks. When doctors talk about the length of the cycle they include the days of the period.

Most women ovulate around 13-14 days before a period. If a woman has a 28-day cycle, this means ovulation will be right in the middle of a cycle. However, a woman who has a 21-day cycle will ovulate around day seven. This means seven days from the start of a period - she might still be on a period on the day she ovulates.

If your periods are very regular then it is fairly easy to work out when you are likely to be ovulating. If your periods are not regular then it is not so easy. Doctors suggest that you keep dates for a few months. If you sometimes have a period every three weeks and sometimes every five weeks then you could be ovulating any time from day seven to day 21.

If your periods are very irregular you may not be ovulating at all or infrequently. Again keep dates and if you are trying for a baby and have no success after six months, see your doctor.

Bleeding which occurs between periods should also be reported to your doctor. If bleeding happens after you have sex you should get an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can.

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