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The menstrual cycle: Overview, what's normal, phases explained

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Written by Lauren McKay

Lauren McKay

Lauren McKay is a writer and journalist with more than ten years of experience writing across a variety of topics. She is a passionate advocate for driving women’s health knowledge and is a trained yoga teacher. She earned a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and currently lives in Scotland.

Medically reviewed by Jack Pearson, Medical Affairs Manager at Natural Cycles

Jack Pearson

Dr. Jack Pearson is a previously HCPC registered Embryologist with a PhD in reproductive medicine. Prior to joining Natural Cycles leading Medical Affairs, he worked for more than 10 years in a clinical setting working at some of the busiest fertility clinics in the UK. Today he spends most of his time working with experts at the world’s leading institutions to carry out important research with the vision to further the field of female health. He earned his PhD from the University of Sheffield specializing in Sperm Metabolism and currently lives in London.

Key takeaways:

  • The menstrual cycle is the process your body goes through each month as it prepares your body for possible pregnancy
  • If you don’t get pregnant, it results in menstruation (your period)
  • Although 28 days is often thought of as a ‘normal’ cycle, the average menstrual cycle can actually last anywhere from 21-35 days

Knowing your menstrual cycle is a great way to get to know your body, whether you consider yourself well-informed or are just starting out on a journey to better understand your cycle. Here’s everything you need to know about the menstrual cycle, including the different phases, the hormones involved, and how tracking your cycle can help you plan or prevent a pregnancy.

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