Graph of cervical fluid consistency throughout the menstrual cycle
Menstrual cycle basics


The menstrual cycle is the process a woman’s body uses to prepare for pregnancy. Although the average cycle length is 28 days, a cycle can be a few days longer or shorter and still be considered normal, and the length of your cycle can vary a little from cycle to cycle and still be considered regular.

Beginning and ending with a period’s onset, the menstrual cycle is broken down into four phases, whose arrivals are signaled by hormonal changes in the body: menstruation (your period), and then the proliferative, ovulatory, and luteal phases.

Because the period is the most recognizable phase of the menstrual cycle, many people are uninformed about the happenings and importance of the others, which is unfortunate because the proliferative, ovulatory and luteal phases play are just as important as the menstrual phase!

What are the phases?

The body performs different functions throughout the four phases of the menstrual cycle, each of which plays a unique role in the reproductive process:

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