Difference between revisions of "Period"

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[[Image:MenstrualCycle2.png|thumb|300px|right|Menstrual cycle]]
The term '''Period''' refers to the time-frame that a [[recreationist|recreation group]] researchs, recreates and represents. This can vary from a small number of years (say 50) to more than a millenium (eg. the SCA).
 
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{{Redirect|Aunt Flo|the TV character|Bod (series)}}
   
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The '''menstrual cycle''' is a cycle of [[physiology|physiological]] changes that occurs in fertile [[female]]s. Overt menstruation (where there is [[blood flow]] from the [[vagina]]) occurs primarily in humans and close evolutionary relatives such as [[chimpanzee]]s.<!--
==Period and the SCA==
 
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--><ref name=strassmann>{{cite journal |author=Strassmann BI |title=The evolution of endometrial cycles and menstruation |journal=Q Rev Biol |volume=71 |issue=2 |pages=181–220 |year=1996 |pmid=8693059| doi = 10.1086/419369}}</ref> Females of other species of [[Eutheria|placental mammal]] undergo [[estrous cycle]]s, in which the endometrium is completely reabsorbed by the animal (covert menstruation) at the end of its [[Biological life cycle|reproductive cycle]]. This article focuses on the human menstrual cycle.
The [[SCA]] period is anything prior to the [[17th Century]]. This is includes what some may regard as the [[Dark Ages]], the [[Middle Ages]] and the [[Renaissance]]. Many people think that the SCA only covers the period from 600 AD to 1600AD, but [[Corpora]] states:
 
: <b>''"Period: The era used by the Society as the base for its re-creation activities. The Society is based on the life and culture of the landed nobility of pre-17th Century Western Europe, focusing on the middle Ages and the Renaissance."'' </b>(Page 8)<br>
 
Anything that had been discovered or was in general usage during this time-frame is acceptable at SCA [[event]]s, unless it breaks [[mundane]] [[laws|law]] or would be considered offensive; so no burning [[heretic]]s! The major exception to this guideline is [[religion]] - although it was the mainstay of the [[medieval]] era, anything overtly religious is avoided. No-one is going to complain if you dress as a [[monk]], [[nun]] or [[inquistition|inquisitor]], but expect someone to dissuade you from holding a religious service in a public space; it's against [[SCA]] law. In contrast, what you do in your [[tent]] or [[pavilion]] is nobody's business but those in the tent with you.
 
   
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The menstrual cycle, under the control of the [[endocrine system]], is necessary for [[reproduction]]. It may be divided into three distinct phases: [[menstruation]], the [[follicular phase]] and the [[luteal phase]].<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8">{{cite book
By contrast, if something was invented or only in general usage outside of the above time-frame, it is considered to be [[out of period]] (often abbreviated to OOP). For example, mobile phones are OOP, but [[lasagna]] is not. Items not known to non-[[Europe|European]] cultures, but known to cultures that had no contact with them, might be called out of period in SCA usage, often used in useage similar to "it's out of period, unless your [[persona]] comes from [[Japan]]".
 
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|author=Losos, Jonathan B.; Raven, Peter H.; Johnson, George B.; Singer, Susan R.
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|title=Biology
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|publisher=McGraw-Hill
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|location=New York
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|year=2002
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|pages=1207–09
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|isbn=0-07-303120-8
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}}</ref> Ovulation defines the transition from the follicular phase to the luteal phase. The length of each phase varies from woman to woman and cycle to cycle, though the average menstrual cycle is 28 days.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> [[Hormonal contraception]] interferes with the normal hormonal changes with the aim of preventing reproduction.
   
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Stimulated by gradually increasing amounts of [[estrogen]] in the follicular phase, menses slow then stop, and the [[Endometrium|lining]] of the [[uterus]] thickens. Follicles in the [[ovary]] begin developing under the influence of a complex interplay of hormones, and after several days one or occasionally two become dominant (non-dominant follicles atrophy and die). Approximately mid-cycle, 24-36 hours after the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) surges, the dominant follicle releases an [[Ovum|ovum, or egg]] in an event called [[ovulation]]. After ovulation, the egg only lives for 24 hours or less without fertilization while the remains of the dominant follicle in the ovary become a [[corpus luteum]]; this body has a primary function of producing large amounts of [[progesterone]]. Under the influence of progesterone, the endometrium (uterine lining) changes to prepare for potential [[implantation]] of an embryo to establish a [[pregnancy]]. If implantation does not occur within approximately two weeks, the corpus luteum will involute, causing sharp drops in levels of both progesterone and estrogen. These hormone drops cause the uterus to shed its lining in a process termed menstruation.
In a special interest group, for example a mailing list for [[10th century]] Clothing, period may refer to the [[10th century]], even if that list is labelled as an SCA mailing list. An item might also be considered [[out of period]] for a person's [[persona]], for example [[potato]]es are out of period for a [[6th century]] [[Scotland|Scotsman]], but might be in period (if rare) for a late [[16th Century]] [[Elizabethan]] [[noble]], however while some in the SCA might know this information about their persona, few would care to live under these restrictions for long at an event.
 
   
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In the menstrual cycle, changes occur in the [[female reproductive system]] as well as other systems (which lead to [[breast tenderness]] or [[Mood (psychology)|mood]] changes, for example). A woman's first menstruation is termed [[menarche]], and occurs typically around age 12. The end of a woman's reproductive phase is called the [[menopause]], which commonly occurs somewhere between the ages of 45 and 55.
==Period vs. Period-Style==
 
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== Terminology ==
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The menarche is one of the later stages of [[puberty]] in girls. The average age of menarche in humans is 12 years, but is normal anywhere between ages 8 and 16. Factors such as heredity, diet and overall health can accelerate or delay menarche.<!--
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--><ref name=age>"[http://www.4woman.gov/faq/menstru.htm#6 At what age does a girl get her first period?]," from ''Menstruation and the Menstrual Cycle'', National Women's Health Information Center (accessed June 11, 2005)</ref> The cessation of menstrual cycles at the end of a woman's reproductive period is termed [[menopause]]. The average age of menopause in women is 50 years, with anywhere between 40 and 58 being common. Menopause before age 35 is considered ''premature''. The age of menopause is largely a result of genetics; however, illnesses, certain surgeries, or medical treatments may cause menopause to occur earlier.<!--
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--><ref>{{cite web | last = Shuman | first = Tracy | title = Your Guide to Menopause | work = WebMD |month=February | year=2006 | url = http://www.webmd.com/content/article/9/2953_504.htm | accessdate = 2006-12-16 }}</ref>
   
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The length of a woman's menstrual cycle will typically vary, with some shorter cycles and some longer cycles. A woman who experiences variations of less than eight days between her longest cycles and shortest cycles is considered to have regular menstrual cycles. It is unusual for a woman to experience cycle length variations of less than four days. Length variation between eight and 20 days is considered moderately irregular. Variation of 21 days or more between a woman's shortest and longest cycle lengths is considered very irregular (see [[#Cycle abnormalities|cycle abnormalities]]).<!--
As a general term, something which is period is something directly attested by primary sources, e.g. a recipe from a period source or an article of clothing which has been preserved; something which is period-style is something which attempts to be true to the style in primary sources, e.g. a recipe which, while not found in any period source, uses the same principles of healthy eating, available & likely food-stuffs and so forth, or an article of clothing which is cut similarly to an actual artifact.
 
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--><ref name=kippley>{{cite book | first=John | last=Kippley | coauthors=Sheila Kippley | year=1996 | title=The Art of Natural Family Planning | edition=4th | publisher=The Couple to Couple League | location=Cincinnati, OH | isbn=0-926412-13-2 | pages=92 }}</ref>
   
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==Phases ==
Periodoid (or perioid) indicates something which is pseudo-period, e.g. honey-butter or a cloak with a vampire's picture on it. Periodoid things are not medieval and never were, but to our eyes (or some of our eyes) they appear to be. They might also be described as [[medjeeval]] or [[medievaloid]].
 
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The menstrual cycle is divided into several phases. The average length of each phase is shown below:
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{| class="wikitable"
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| '''Name of phase''' || '''Average start day'''<br>assuming a 28-day cycle || '''Average end day'''
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|-
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| menstrual phase || 1 || 4
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|-
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| follicular phase (also known as proliferative phase) || 5 || 13
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|-
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| ovulation (not a phase, but an event dividing phases) || 12 || 16
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|-
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| luteal phase (also known as secretory phase) || 15 || 26
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|-
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| ischemic phase (some sources group this with luteal phase) || 27 || 28
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|}
   
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===Menstruation===
Some few items are essential for safe recreation, and their presence, although out of period, is automatically ignored.
 
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{{main|Menstruation}}
Items like this include:
 
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Menstruation is also called '''menstrual bleeding''', '''menses''', '''catamenia''' or a '''period'''. The flow of menses normally serves as a sign that a woman has not become [[pregnancy|pregnant]]. (However, this cannot be taken as certainty, as a number of factors can cause [[Vaginal_bleeding#Pregnant_women|bleeding during pregnancy]]; some factors are specific to [[First trimester bleeding|early pregnancy]], and some can cause [[Obstetrical hemorrhage|heavy flow]].)<ref>{{cite web | last = Greenfield | first = Marjorie | title = Subchorionic Hematoma in Early Pregnancy | work = Ask Our Experts | publisher = DrSpock.com | date = 2001-09-17 | url = http://www.drspock.com/faq/0,1511,8334,00.html | accessdate = 2008-09-21}}</ref><ref>{{cite journal | last = Anderson-Berry | first = Ann L | coauthors = Terence Zach | title = Vanishing Twin Syndrome | journal = Emedicine.com | publisher = WebMD | date = 2007-12-10 | url = http://www.emedicine.com/med/TOPIC3411.HTM | accessdate = 2008-09-21}}</ref><ref>{{cite journal | last = Ko | first = Patrick | coauthors = Young Yoon | title = Placenta Previa | journal = Emedicine.com | publisher = WebMD | date = 2007-08-23 | url = http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic427.htm | accessdate = 2008-09-21}}</ref> During the reproductive years, failure to menstruate may provide the first indication to a [[woman]] that she may have become pregnant.
* [[eye glasses]] with modern frames
 
* medical aids
 
* [[safety]] equipment
 
* mundane SCA paperwork and laws
 
* safety rules
 
   
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''Eumenorrhea'' denotes normal, regular menstruation that lasts for a few days (usually 3 to 5 days, but anywhere from 2 to 7 days is considered normal).<!--
See also [[period by consensus]].
 
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--><ref name="US-typical">{{cite web | author=The National Women's Health Information Center | title=What is a typical menstrual period like?|url=http://www.4woman.gov/faq/menstru.htm#4 | month=November | year=2002 | publisher=U.S. Department of Health and Human Services | accessdate=2005-06-11}}</ref><ref name=allmenses>{{cite web | author=John M Goldenring | title=All About Menstruation |url=http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/all-about-menstruation | date=2007-02-01 | publisher=WebMD | accessdate=2008-10-05}}</ref> The average [[Bleeding|blood loss]] during menstruation is 35 milliliters with 10–80 ml considered normal.<!--
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--><ref name=bloodloss>{{cite web | author=David L Healy | title=Menorrhagia Heavy Periods - Current Issues | year=2004-11-24 | publisher=Monash University | id=ABN 12 377 614 012 | url=http://www.med.monash.edu.au/ob-gyn/research/menorr.html}}</ref> (Because of this blood loss, women are more susceptible to [[iron deficiency (medicine)|iron deficiency]] than are men.)<!--
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--><ref name=iron>{{cite journal |author=Harvey LJ, Armah CN, Dainty JR, ''et al.'' |title=Impact of menstrual blood loss and diet on iron deficiency among women in the UK |journal=The British journal of nutrition |volume=94 |issue=4 |pages=557–64 |year=2005 |month=October |pmid=16197581 |doi= 10.1079/BJN20051493 |url=http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0007114505002175 |accessdate=2008-10-05}}</ref> An [[enzyme]] called [[plasmin]] inhibits [[blood clotting|clotting]] in the menstrual fluid.<!--
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--><ref name=plasmin>{{cite journal |author=Shiraishi M |title=Studies on identification of menstrual blood stain by fibrin-plate method. I. A study on the incoagulability of menstrual blood |journal=Acta medicinae Okayama |volume=16 |issue= |pages=192–200 |year=1962 |month=August |pmid=13977381 |doi= |url=http://escholarship.lib.okayama-u.ac.jp/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3340&context=amo |accessdate=2008-10-05}}</ref> Cramping in the abdomen, back, or upper thighs is common during the first few days of menstruation. When menstruation begins, symptoms of [[premenstrual syndrome]] (PMS) such as [[mastalgia|breast tenderness]] and irritability generally decrease.<ref name=allmenses/> Many [[Menstruation#Menstrual products|sanitary products]] are marketed to women for use during their menstruation.
   
== Topics ==
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===Follicular phase===
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{{main|Follicular phase}}
=== The SCA centuries ===
 
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This phase is also called the ''proliferative phase'' because a hormone causes the lining of the uterus to grow, or proliferate, during this time.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/>
*[[7th Century]]
 
*[[8th Century]]
 
*[[9th Century]]
 
*[[10th Century]]
 
*[[11th Century]]
 
*[[12th Century]]
 
*[[13th Century]]
 
*[[14th Century]]
 
*[[15th Century]]
 
*[[16th Century]]
 
*[[17th Century]]
 
   
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Through the influence of a rise in [[follicle stimulating hormone]] (FSH) during the first days of the cycle, a few [[ovarian follicle]]s are stimulated.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> These follicles, which were present at birth<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> and have been developing for the better part of a year in a process known as [[folliculogenesis]], compete with each other for dominance. Under the influence of several hormones, all but one of these follicles will stop growing, while one dominant follicle in the ovary will continue to maturity. The follicle that reaches maturity is called a tertiary, or Graafian, follicle, and it forms the ovum.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/>
===Re-Enactment Centuries===
 
These vary greatly depending on the group. Groups might [[re-enactment|re-enact]] the events within a stated few days (eg [[Pike and Musket Society]], to a few months (eg. Sealed Knot), years (Buckingham's Retinue) or centuries ([[Fire and Steel]]). Few have a range as great as that of the [[SCA]]. Centuries covered vary from antiquity to the late [[20th century]].
 
   
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As they mature, the follicles secrete increasing amounts of [[estradiol]], an [[estrogen]]. The estrogens initiate the formation of a new layer of [[endometrium]] in the uterus, histologically identified as the proliferative endometrium. The estrogen also stimulates [[Crypt (anatomy)|crypts]] in the [[cervix]] to produce fertile cervical mucus, which may be noticed by women practicing [[fertility awareness]].<!--
=== Major Period Events ===
 
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--><ref name=tcoyf2>{{cite book | first=Toni | last=Weschler | year=2002 | title=Taking Charge of Your Fertility | pages=359–361 | edition=Revised | publisher=HarperCollins | location=New York | isbn=0-06-093764-5 }}</ref>
* [[Black Death]]
 
* [[Crusade|The Crusades]]
 
* [[discovery of the Americas]]
 
   
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===Ovulation===
[[category:SCAism]]
 
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{{main|Ovulation}}
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[[Image:ovulation.jpg|thumb|An ovary about to release an egg.]]
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When the egg has nearly matured, the level of estradiol in the body has increased enough to trigger a sudden release of [[luteinizing hormone]] (LH) from the [[anterior pituitary gland]].<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> In the average cycle this LH surge starts around cycle day 12 and may last 48 hours. The release of LH matures the egg and weakens the wall of the follicle in the ovary, causing the fully developed follicle to release its [[secondary oocyte]].<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> The secondary oocyte promptly matures into an [[ootid]] and then becomes a mature [[ovum]]. The mature ovum has a diameter of about 0.2&nbsp;mm.<ref>{{cite book |author=Gray, Henry David |title=Anatomy of the human body |chapter=The Ovum |publisher=Bartleby.com |location=Philadelphia |year=2000 |chapterurl=http://education.yahoo.com/reference/gray/subjects/subject/3 |isbn=1-58734-102-6 |accessdate=2008-10-05}}</ref>
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Which of the two ovaries—left or right—ovulates appears essentially random; no known left/right co-ordination exists.<ref name=ov>{{cite journal |author=Ecochard R, Gougeon A |title=Side of ovulation and cycle characteristics in normally fertile women |journal=Human reproduction (Oxford, England) |volume=15 |issue=4 |pages=752–5 |year=2000 |month=April |pmid=10739814 |doi= 10.1093/humrep/15.4.752|url=http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=10739814}}</ref> Occasionally, both ovaries will release an egg;<ref name=ov/> if both eggs are fertilized, the result is [[fraternal twin]]s.<ref name=twins>{{cite web | title = Multiple Pregnancy: Twins or More - Topic Overview | work = WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise | date = 2007-07-24 | url = http://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/multiple-pregnancy-twins-or-more-topic-overview | accessdate = 2008-10-05}}</ref>
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After being released from the ovary, the egg is swept into the [[fallopian tube]] by the [[Fimbria (female reproductive system)|fimbria]], which is a fringe of tissue at the end of each fallopian tube. After about a day, an unfertilized egg will disintegrate or dissolve in the fallopian tube.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/>
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Fertilization by a [[spermatozoon]], when it occurs, usually takes place in the [[Ampulla of uterine tube|ampulla]], the widest section of the fallopian tubes. A fertilized egg immediately begins the process of [[Human embryogenesis|embryogenesis]], or development. The developing embryo takes about three days to reach the uterus and another three days to implant into the endometrium.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> It has usually reached the [[blastocyst]] stage at the time of implantation.
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In some women, ovulation features a characteristic pain called ''[[mittelschmerz]]'' (German term meaning ''middle pain'').<ref name=allmenses/> The sudden change in hormones at the time of ovulation sometimes also causes light mid-cycle blood flow.<ref>Weschler (2002), p.65</ref>
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===Luteal phase===
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{{main|Luteal phase}}
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The luteal phase is also called the ''secretory phase''. An important role is played by the [[corpus luteum]], the solid body formed in an ovary after the egg has been released from the ovary into the fallopian tube. This body continues to grow for some time after ovulation and produces significant amounts of hormones, particularly [[progesterone]].<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> Progesterone plays a vital role in making the [[endometrium]] receptive to [[implantation]] of the [[blastocyst]] and supportive of the early pregnancy; it also has the side effect of raising the woman's [[basal body temperature]].<ref name=tcoyf>Weschler (2002), pp.361-2</ref>
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After ovulation, the [[Pituitary gland|pituitary hormones]] FSH and LH cause the remaining parts of the dominant follicle to transform into the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone and estrogens. The hormones produced by the corpus luteum also suppress production of the FSH and LH that the corpus luteum needs to maintain itself. Consequently, the level of FSH and LH fall quickly over time, and the corpus luteum subsequently atrophies.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> Falling levels of progesterone trigger menstruation and the beginning of the next cycle. From the time of ovulation until progesterone withdrawal has caused menstruation to begin, the process typically takes about two weeks, with ten to sixteen days considered normal. For an individual woman, the follicular phase often varies in length from cycle to cycle; by contrast, the length of her luteal phase will be fairly consistent from cycle to cycle.<ref>Weschler (2002), p.47</ref>
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The loss of the corpus luteum can be prevented by fertilization of the egg; the resulting [[embryo]] produces [[human chorionic gonadotropin]] (hCG), which is very similar to LH and which can preserve the corpus luteum. Because the hormone is unique to the embryo, most [[pregnancy test]]s look for the presence of hCG.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/>
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==Fertile window==
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The most fertile period (the time with the highest likelihood of pregnancy resulting from [[sexual intercourse]]) covers the time from some 5 days before until 1–2 days after ovulation.<ref>Weschler (2002), pp.242,374</ref> In an average 28 day cycle with a 14-day luteal phase, this corresponds to the second and the beginning of the third week. However, few cycles are exactly average. A variety of methods have been developed to help individual women estimate the relatively fertile and the relatively infertile days in the cycle: these systems are called [[fertility awareness]].
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Fertility awareness methods that rely on cycle length records alone are called [[calendar-based methods]].<ref name=who>{{cite paper |title=Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use:Fertility awareness-based methods | version = Third edition |publisher=World Health Organization |year=2004 |url=http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/publications/mec/fab.html |accessdate=2008-04-29 }}</ref> Methods that require observation of one or more of the three primary fertility signs ([[basal body temperature]], [[cervical mucus]], and cervical position)<ref>Weschler (2002), p.52</ref> are known as symptoms-based methods.<ref name=who/> [[Urinalysis|Urine test]] kits are available that detect the LH surge that occurs 24 to 36 hours before ovulation; these are known as ovulation predictor kits (OPKs).<ref>{{MedlinePlus|007062|LH urine test (home test)}}</ref> Computerized devices that interpret basal body temperatures, urinary test results, or changes in saliva are called [[fertility monitors]].
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A [[Fertility#Female fertility|woman's fertility]] is also affected by her age.<ref>{{cite web | last=Davis | first=Jeanie Lerche | title=Fertility Treatment Less Successful After 35 | work=WebMD Health News | url=http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20040618/fertility-treatment-less-successful-after-35 | date=2004-06-18 | accessdate=2008-09-21}}</ref> As a woman's total egg supply is formed in fetal life,<!--
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--><ref>{{cite web | last = Krock | first = Lexi | title = Fertility Throughout Life | work = 18 Ways to Make a Baby | publisher = NOVA Online |month=October | year=2001 | url = http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/baby/fert_text.html | accessdate = 2006-12-24 }}
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{{cite web | last = Haines | first = Cynthiac | title = Your Guide to the Female Reproductive System | work = The Cleveland Clinic Women's Health Center | publisher = WebMD | month = January | year = 2006 | url = http://www.webmd.com/content/article/51/40619.htm | accessdate = 2006-12-24 }}</ref> to be ovulated decades later, it has been suggested that this long lifetime may make the [[chromatin]] of eggs more vulnerable to division problems, breakage, and mutation than the chromatin of sperm, which are produced continuously during a man's reproductive life.
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==Effect on other systems==
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Some women with [[Neurology|neurological conditions]] experience increased activity of their conditions at about the same time during each menstrual cycle. Many women with [[epilepsy]] have more seizures in a pattern linked to the menstrual cycle; this is called "catamenial epilepsy".<ref name=pmid18164632>{{cite journal |author=Herzog AG |title=Catamenial epilepsy: definition, prevalence pathophysiology and treatment |journal=Seizure : the journal of the British Epilepsy Association |volume=17 |issue=2 |pages=151–9 |year=2008 |month=March |pmid=18164632 |doi=10.1016/j.seizure.2007.11.014 |url=http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1059-1311(07)00233-6}}</ref> Different patterns seem to exist (such as seizures coinciding with the time of menstruation, or coinciding with the time of ovulation), and the frequency with which they occur has not been firmly established. Using one particular definition, one group of scientists found that around one-third of women with intractable partial epilepsy have catamenial epilepsy.<ref name=pmid18164632/><ref name=pmid15349872>{{cite journal |author=Herzog AG, Harden CL, Liporace J, ''et al.'' |title=Frequency of catamenial seizure exacerbation in women with localization-related epilepsy |journal=Annals of neurology |volume=56 |issue=3 |pages=431–4 |year=2004 |month=September |pmid=15349872 |doi=10.1002/ana.20214}}</ref><ref name=pmid9579954>{{cite journal |author=Herzog AG, Klein P, Ransil BJ |title=Three patterns of catamenial epilepsy |journal=Epilepsia |volume=38 |issue=10 |pages=1082–8 |year=1997 |month=October |pmid=9579954 |doi= 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1997.tb01197.x|url=}}</ref> An effect of hormones has been proposed, in which progesterone declines and estrogen increases would trigger seizures.<ref name=pmid16981857>{{cite journal |author=Scharfman HE, MacLusky NJ |title=The influence of gonadal hormones on neuronal excitability, seizures, and epilepsy in the female |journal=Epilepsia |volume=47 |issue=9 |pages=1423–40 |year=2006 |month=September |pmid=16981857 |pmc=1924802 |doi=10.1111/j.1528-1167.2006.00672.x |url=http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/openurl?genre=article&sid=nlm:pubmed&issn=0013-9580&date=2006&volume=47&issue=9&spage=1423}}</ref> Studies by medical journals have found that women experiencing menses are 1.68 percent more likely to commit [[suicide]].<ref name=SuicideRatesPsyMed>{{cite journal|last= Enrique Baca-García, Carmen Diaz-Sastre, Antonio Ceverino, Jeronimo Saiz-Ruiz, Francisco J. Diaz, and Jose de Leon |date=March/April 2003|title=Association Between the Menses and Suicide Attempts: A Replication Study |journal=Psychosomatic Medicine |year=2003|volume=65 |issue=2|url=http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/content/full/65/2/237|accessdate=2008-12-02|pmid=12651991 |doi=10.1097/01.PSY.0000058375.50240.F6 |pages= 237–44}}</ref>
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Mice have been used as an experimental system to investigate possible mechanisms by which levels of [[sex steroid]] hormones might regulate [[nervous system]] function. During the part of the mouse estrous cycle when progesterone is highest, the level of [[Neuron|nerve-cell]] [[GABA A receptor|GABA receptor]] subtype delta was high. Since these GABA receptors are [[Inhibitory postsynaptic potential|inhibitory]], nerve cells with more delta receptors are less likely to fire than cells with lower numbers of delta receptors. During the part of the mouse estrous cycle when estrogen levels are higher than progesterone levels, the number of delta receptors decrease, increasing nerve cell activity, in turn increasing anxiety and seizure susceptibility.<!--
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--><ref name=Maguire>{{cite journal |author=Maguire JL, Stell BM, Rafizadeh M, Mody I |title=Ovarian cycle-linked changes in GABA<sub>A</sub> receptors mediating tonic inhibition alter seizure susceptibility and anxiety |journal=Nat. Neurosci. |volume=8 |issue=6 |pages=797–804 |year=2005 |month=June |pmid=15895085 |doi=10.1038/nn1469 }}</ref>
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Estrogen levels may affect thyroid behavior.<ref>{{cite journal |author=Doufas AG, Mastorakos G |title=The hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis and the female reproductive system |journal=Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences |volume=900 |issue= |pages=65–76 |year=2000 |pmid=10818393 |doi= |url=http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/openurl?genre=article&sid=nlm:pubmed&issn=0077-8923&date=2000&volume=900&spage=65}}</ref> For example, during the luteal phase (when estrogen levels are lower), the velocity of blood flow in the thyroid is lower than during the follicular phase (when estrogen levels are higher).<ref>{{cite journal |author=Krejza J, Nowacka A, Szylak A, Bilello M, Melhem LY |title=Variability of thyroid blood flow Doppler parameters in healthy women |journal=Ultrasound in medicine & biology |volume=30 |issue=7 |pages=867–76 |year=2004 |month=July |pmid=15313319 |doi=10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2004.05.008}}</ref>
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Among women living closely together, the onsets of menstruation may tend to synchronize somewhat. This [[McClintock effect]] was first described in 1971, and possibly explained by the action of [[pheromone]]s in 1998.<!--
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--><ref name=Mclintock>{{cite journal | author=Stern K, McClintock MK | title=Regulation of ovulation by human pheromones | journal=Nature | year=1998 | pages=177–9 | volume=392 | issue=6672 | pmid=9515961 | doi=10.1038/32408}}</ref>
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However, subsequent research has called this hypothesis into question.<!--
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--><ref>{{cite web | last = Adams | first = Cecil | authorlink = Cecil Adams | title = Does menstrual synchrony really exist? | work = The Straight Dope | publisher = The Chicao Reader | date = [[2002-12-20]] | url = http://www.straightdope.com/columns/021220.html | accessdate = 2007-01-10 }}</ref>
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===Cycle abnormalities===
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{{main|Menstrual disorder}}
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Infrequent or irregular ovulation is called ''oligoovulation''.<ref>{{cite web | last = Galan | first = Nicole | title = Oligoovulation | publisher = about.com | date = 2008-04-16 | url = http://pcos.about.com/od/glossary/g/oligoovulation.htm | accessdate = 2008-10-12}}</ref> The absence of ovulation is called ''[[anovulation]]''. Normal menstrual flow can occur without ovulation preceding it: an anovulatory cycle. In some cycles, follicular development may start but not be completed; nevertheless, estrogens will form and will stimulate the uterine lining. Anovulatory flow resulting from a very thick endometrium caused by prolonged, continued high estrogen levels is called ''estrogen breakthrough bleeding''. Anovulatory bleeding triggered by a sudden drop in estrogen levels is called ''estrogen withdrawal bleeding''.<ref name=tcoyf3>Weschler (2002), p.107</ref> Anovulatory cycles commonly occur prior to [[menopause]] (perimenopause) and in women with [[polycystic ovary syndrome]].<ref name=emed2>{{EMedicine|med|146|Anovulation}}</ref>
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Very little flow (less than 10ml) is called ''[[hypomenorrhea]]''. Regular cycles with intervals of 21 days or fewer are ''[[polymenorrhea]]''; frequent but irregular menstruation is known as ''[[metrorrhagia]]''. Sudden heavy flows or amounts in excess of 80 ml are termed ''[[menorrhagia]]''.<ref name=emed1>{{EMedicine|ped|2781|Menstruation Disorders}}</ref> Heavy menstruation that occurs frequently and irregularly is ''[[menometrorrhagia]]''. The term for cycles with intervals exceeding 35 days is ''[[oligomenorrhea]]''.<ref name=afp>{{cite journal |author=Oriel KA, Schrager S |title=Abnormal uterine bleeding |journal=American Family Physician |volume=60 |issue=5 |pages=1371–80; discussion 1381–2 |year=1999 |month=October |pmid=10524483 | url = http://www.aafp.org/afp/991001ap/1371.html | accessdate = 2008-10-12}}</ref> [[Amenorrhea]] refers to more than three<ref name=emed1/> to six<ref name=afp/> months without menses (in the absence of pregnancy) during a woman's reproductive years.
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==Ovulation suppression==
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===Hormonal contraception===
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{{main|Hormonal contraception}}
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[[Image:pillpacketopen.jpg|thumb|right|Half-used blister pack of a combined oral contraceptive. The white pills are [[placebos]].]]
  +
While some forms of [[birth control]] do not affect the menstrual cycle, hormonal contraceptives work by disrupting it. Progestogen [[negative feedback]] decreases the pulse frequency of [[gonadotropin-releasing hormone]] (GnRH) release by the [[hypothalamus]], which decreases the release of [[follicle-stimulating hormone]] (FSH) and greatly decreases the release of [[luteinizing hormone]] (LH) by the [[anterior pituitary]]. Decreased levels of FSH inhibit follicular development, preventing an increase in [[estradiol]] levels. Progestogen negative feedback and the lack of estrogen [[positive feedback]] on LH release prevent a mid-cycle LH surge. Inhibition of follicular development and the absence of a LH surge prevent ovulation.<!--
  +
--><ref name=hatcher>{{cite book |author=Trussell, James |year=2007 |chapter=Contraceptive Efficacy |editor=Hatcher, Robert A., et al. |title=Contraceptive Technology |edition=19th rev. |pages= |location=New York |publisher=Ardent Media |isbn=0-9664902-0-7 |chapterurl=http://www.contraceptivetechnology.com/table.html}}</ref><!--
  +
--><ref name=speroff>{{cite book |author=Speroff, Leon; Darney, Philip D. |year=2005 |chapter=Oral Contraception |title=A Clinical Guide for Contraception |edition=4th |pages=21–138 |location=Philadelphia |publisher=Lippincott Williams & Wilkins |isbn=0-781-76488-2}}</ref><!--
  +
--><ref name=loose>{{cite book |author=Loose, Davis S.; Stancel, George M. |editor=Brunton, Laurence L.; Lazo, John S.; Parker, Keith L. (eds.) |year=2006 |chapter=Estrogens and Progestins |title=Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics |edition=11th |pages=1541–71 |location=New York |publisher=McGraw-Hill |isbn=0-07-142280-3}}</ref>
  +
  +
The degree of ovulation suppression in progestogen-only contraceptives depends on the [[progestogen]] activity and dose. Low dose progestogen-only contraceptives—traditional [[progestogen only pill]]s, [[subdermal implant]]s [[Norplant]] and Jadelle, and [[IntraUterine System|intrauterine system]] Mirena—inhibit ovulation in ~50% of cycles and rely mainly on other effects, such as thickening of cervical mucus, for their contraceptive effectiveness.<ref name=glasier>{{cite book |last=Glasier |first=Anna |editor=DeGroot, Leslie J.; Jameson, J. Larry (eds.) |title=Endocrinology |edition=5th |year=2006 |publisher=Elsevier Saunders |location=Philadelphia |isbn=0721603769 |pages=3000–1 |chapter=Contraception}}</ref> Intermediate dose progestogen-only contraceptives—the progestogen-only pill Cerazette and the subdermal implant [[Implanon]]—allow some follicular development but more consistently inhibit ovulation in 97–99% of cycles. The same cervical mucus changes occur as with very low dose progestogens. High dose progestogen-only contraceptives—the injectables [[Depo-Provera]] and Noristerat—completely inhibit follicular development and ovulation.<ref name=glasier/>
  +
  +
Combined hormonal contraceptives include both an estrogen and a progestogen. Estrogen negative feedback on the anterior pituitary greatly decreases the release of FSH, which makes combined hormonal contraceptives more effective at inhibiting follicular development and preventing ovulation. Estrogen also reduces the incidence of irregular [[breakthrough bleeding]].<ref name=hatcher/><ref name=speroff/><ref name=loose/> Several combined hormonal contraceptives—[[combined oral contraceptive pill|the pill]], [[NuvaRing]], and the [[contraceptive patch]]—are usually used in a way that causes regular withdrawal bleeding. In a normal cycle, [[menstruation]] occurs when estrogen and progesterone levels drop rapidly.<ref name=tcoyf/> Temporarily discontinuing use of combined hormonal contraceptives (a placebo week, not using patch or ring for a week) has a similar effect of causing the uterine lining to shed. If withdrawal bleeding is not desired, combined hormonal contraceptives may be [[extended cycle combined hormonal contraceptive|taken continuously]], although this increases the risk of breakthrough bleeding.
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===Lactational amenorrhea===
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{{main|Lactational amenorrhea method}}
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[[Breastfeeding]] causes negative feedback to occur on pulse secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Depending on the strength of the negative feedback, breastfeeding women may experience complete suppression of follicular development, follicular development but no ovulation, or normal menstrual cycles may resume.<ref name=mcneilly>{{cite journal |author=McNeilly AS |title=Lactational control of reproduction |journal=Reprod. Fertil. Dev. |volume=13 |issue=7-8 |pages=583–90 |year=2001 |pmid=11999309 |doi= 10.1071/RD01056 |url=http://www.publish.csiro.au/journals/abstractHTML.cfm?J=RD&V=13&I=8&F=RD01056abs.XML}}</ref> Suppression of ovulation is more likely when suckling occurs more frequently.<ref name=kippley>{{cite book | first=John | last=Kippley | coauthors=Sheila Kippley | year=1996 | title=The Art of Natural Family Planning | edition=4th | publisher=The Couple to Couple League | location=Cincinnati, OH | isbn=0-926412-13-2 | page=347}}</ref> The production of [[prolactin]] in response to suckling is important to maintaining lactational amenorrhea.<ref>{{cite journal |author=Stallings JF, Worthman CM, Panter-Brick C, Coates RJ |title=Prolactin response to suckling and maintenance of postpartum amenorrhea among intensively breastfeeding Nepali women |journal=Endocr. Res. |volume=22 |issue=1 |pages=1–28 |year=1996 |month=February |pmid=8690004 }}</ref> On average, women who are fully breastfeeding whose infants suckle frequently experience a return of menstruation at fourteen and a half months postpartum. There is a wide range of response between individual breastfeeding women, however, with some experiencing return of menstruation at two months and others remaining amenorrheic for up to 42 months postpartum.<ref>{{cite web | title = Breastfeeding: Does It Really Space Babies? | work = The Couple to Couple League International | publisher = Internet Archive | date = 2008-01-17 | url = http://web.archive.org/web/20080117232155/http://www.ccli.org/nfp/ebf/spacebabies.php | accessdate = 2008-09-21}}, which cites:
  +
:{{cite journal | author=Sheila K. and John F. Kippley | title= The relation between breastfeeding and amenorrhea | journal=Journal of obstetric, gynecologic, and neonatal nursing | date=November-December 1972 | volume=1 | issue=4 | pages= 15–21 | pmid=4485271 }}
  +
:{{cite journal | author=Sheila Kippley | title= Breastfeeding survey results similar to 1971 study | journal=The CCL News | date=November-December 1986 and January-February 1987 | volume=13 | issue=3 | pages=10}} and '''13'''(4): 5.</ref>
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==Etymological and biological associations==
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===Nightlighting and the moon===
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{{seealso|Culture and menstruation}}
  +
The word "menstruation" is etymologically related to "moon". The terms "menstruation" and "menses" are derived from the [[Latin]] ''mensis'' (month), which in turn relates to the [[Greek language|Greek]] ''mene'' (moon) and to the roots of the English words ''month'' and ''moon''&mdash;reflecting the fact that the [[moon]] also takes close to 28 days to revolve around the Earth (actually 27.32 days). The synodical [[lunar month]], the period between two new moons (or full moons), is 29.53 days long.
  +
  +
The [[Talmudic]] tradition<ref>[[Talmud]] Shavuot 18:b.</ref> ascribes a direct relationship between the lunar position and the onset of menstruation. The Hebrew month, lunisolar, follows the lunar cycle (new moon, full moon etc.) Talmudic codes of law<ref>Yoreh Deah Chapter 189:2. See: ''Family Purity—Guide to Marital Fulfillment'' (Chapter 14) by Rabbi Fishel Jacobs, published by Campus Living and Learning, Inc. 2001.</ref>, therefore, forbid intimacy during the Hebrew date on which menstruation had begun the prior month -- perchance it will appear again on this date.
  +
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Some authors believe women in traditional societies without nightlighting ovulated with the [[full moon]] and menstruated with the new moon.<ref>{{cite journal | last = Cohen | first = Sari | title = Melatonin, menstruation, and the moon | journal = Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients | date = February-March 2005 | url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_259-260/ai_n10299307/pg_1 | accessdate = 2008-09-21}}<br/>
  +
{{cite journal | last = Knight | first = Chris | coauthors = Camilla Power & Ian Watts | title = The Human Symbolic Revolution: A Darwinian Account | journal = Cambridge Archaeological Journal | volume = 5 | issue = 1 | pages = 75–114 | year = 1995 | url = http://www.radicalanthropologygroup.org/pub_knight_power_watts_big.pdf |format=PDF| accessdate = 2006-12-13 | doi = 10.1017/S0959774300001190 }}<br/>
  +
{{cite book |author=Lacey, Louise |title=Lunaception: a feminine odyssey into fertility and contraception |publisher=Coward, McCann & Geoghegan |location=New York |year=1975 |pages= |isbn=0-698-10674-1 }}</ref> A few studies in both humans<ref>Singer, Katie. "[http://www.westonaprice.org/women/fertility.html Fertility Awareness, Food, and Night-Lighting]". ''Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts'', Spring 2004. See section on Night-Lighting.</ref> and animals<ref>{{cite journal |author=Harder, Ben |title=Bright nights kindle cancers in mice |journal=Science News |volume=166 |issue=9 |page=141 |date=Week of August 28, 2004}}</ref> have found that artificial light at night does influence the menstrual cycle in humans and the estrus cycle in mice (cycles are more regular in the absence of artificial light at night), though none have demonstrated the synchronization of women's menstrual cycles with the lunar cycle. It has also been suggested that bright light exposure in the morning promotes more regular cycles.<ref>{{cite journal |author=Danilenko KV, Samoilova EA |title=Stimulatory effect of morning bright light on reproductive hormones and ovulation: results of a controlled crossover trial |journal=PLoS clinical trials |volume=2 |issue=2 |pages=e7 |year=2007 |pmid=17290302 |pmc=1851732 |doi=10.1371/journal.pctr.0020007 }}</ref> One author has suggested that sensitivity of women's cycles to nightlighting is caused by [[Illnesses related to poor nutrition|nutritional deficiencies]] of certain vitamins and minerals.<ref>{{cite book |title=Fertility, cycles & nutrition : how your diet affects your menstrual cycles & fertility |author=Shannon, Marilyn M. |year=2001 |publisher=Couple to Couple League International |location=Cincinnati, Ohio |isbn= |pages=71–2 |edition=3rd }}</ref>
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  +
Other animals' menstrual cycles may be greatly different from lunar cycles: while the average cycle length in [[orangutan]]s is the same as in humans—28 days<ref name=knott/>—the average for [[chimpanzee]]s is 35 days.<ref name=chimp>{{cite journal |author=Lacreuse A, Chennareddi L, Gould KG, ''et al.'' |title=Menstrual cycles continue into advanced old age in the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) |journal=Biology of reproduction |volume=79 |issue=3 |pages=407–12 |year=2008 |month=September |pmid=18495682 |pmc=2547989 |doi=10.1095/biolreprod.108.068494 }}</ref> Some take this as evidence that the average length of humans' cycle is most likely a coincidence.<ref>As cited by Adams, Cecil, [http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a990924.html "What's the link between the moon and menstruation?"] (accessed 6 June 2006):<br />{{cite book | last = Abell | first = George O. | authorlink = George Ogden Abell | coauthors = Barry Singer | year = 1983 | title = Science and the Paranormal: Probing the Existence of the Supernatural | publisher = Scribner Book Company | isbn = 0-684-17820-6}}</ref><ref>{{cite journal |author=Cutler WB |title=Lunar and menstrual phase locking |journal=Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. |volume=137 |issue=7 |pages=834–9 |year=1980 |month=August |pmid=7405975}}<br />
  +
{{cite journal |author=Friedmann E |title=Menstrual and lunar cycles |journal=Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. |volume=140 |issue=3 |pages=350 |year=1981 |month=June |pmid=7246643}}<br />
  +
{{cite journal |author=Law SP |title=The regulation of menstrual cycle and its relationship to the moon |journal=Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand |volume=65 |issue=1 |pages=45–8 |year=1986 |pmid=3716780}}<br />
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{{cite journal |author=Zimecki M |title=The lunar cycle: effects on human and animal behavior and physiology |journal=Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online) |volume=60 |issue= |pages=1–7 |year=2006 |pmid=16407788 |url=http://www.phmd.pl/modules.php?name=Current_Issue&d_op=downloadPMID&id=8121 |format={{dead link|date=April 2009}} &ndash; <sup>[http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=intitle%3AThe+lunar+cycle%3A+effects+on+human+and+animal+behavior+and+physiology&as_publication=Postepy+Hig+Med+Dosw+%28Online%29&as_ylo=2006&as_yhi=2006&btnG=Search Scholar search]</sup>}}</ref>
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===Estrus and menstruation===
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{{seealso|Concealed ovulation}}
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Females of most mammal species advertise fertility to males with visual behavioral cues, [[pheromones]], or both.<ref name=britannica>{{cite encyclopedia | title = Estrus | encyclopedia = Britannica Online | url = http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/193725/estrus | accessdate = 2008-10-05}}</ref> This period of advertised fertility is known as ''estrus'' or ''heat''.<ref name=britannica/> In species that experience estrus, females are generally only receptive to copulation while they are in heat<ref name=britannica/> ([[dolphin]]s are an exception).<ref>{{cite web | last = Mikkelson | first = Barbara and David P. | title = Buried Pleasure | work = Snopes.com | date = 2007-06-29 | url = http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/pleasure.asp | accessdate = 2008-10-05}}, which references:
  +
:{{cite book |author=Diamond, Jared M. |title=Why is sex fun?: the evolution of human sexuality |publisher=HarperCollins |location=London |year=1997 |isbn=0-465-03127-7}}</ref> In the [[estrous cycle]]s of most [[Eutheria|placental mammals]], if no fertilization takes place, the uterus reabsorbs the endometrium. This breakdown of the endometrium without [[Discharge|vaginal discharge]] is sometimes called ''covert menstruation''.<ref name=profet>{{cite journal |author=Profet M |title=Menstruation as a defense against pathogens transported by sperm |journal=Q Rev Biol |volume=68 |issue=3 |pages=335–86 |year=1993 |pmid=8210311| doi = 10.1086/418170}}</ref> Overt menstruation (where there is blood flow from the vagina) occurs primarily in humans and close evolutionary relatives such as chimpanzees.<ref name=strassmann/> Some species, such as domestic [[dog]]s, experience small amounts of [[vaginal bleeding]] while in heat; this discharge has a different physiologic cause than menstruation.<ref>{{cite web | title = Canine False Pregnancy and Female Reproduction | publisher = Mar Vista Animal Medical Center | date = 2008-02-02 | url = http://marvistavet.com/html/body_canine_false_pregnancy.html | accessdate = 2008-10-05}}</ref>
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A few mammals do not experience obvious, visible signs of fertility ([[concealed ovulation]]). In humans, while women can be taught to recognize their own level of fertility ([[fertility awareness]]), whether men can detect fertility in women is debated; recent studies have given conflicting results.<!--
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--><ref>Studies that found women are more attractive to men when fertile:
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:{{cite journal | author=S.C. Roberts, J. Havlicek, J. Flegr, M. Hruskova, A.C. Little, B.C. Jones, D.I. Perrett and M. Petrie | first = M. | title = Female facial attractiveness increases during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle | journal = Proc.R.Soc.Lond.B (Suppl.) | volume = 271 | pages = S270–2 | month = August | year = 2004 | doi = 10.1098/rsbl.2004.0174}}
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:{{cite journal | author = Geoffrey Miller, Joshua M. Tybur and Brent D. Jordan | title = Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus? | journal = Evolution and Human Behavior | volume = 28 | issue = 6 | pages = 375 | month = June | year = 2007 | url = http://www.unm.edu/~gfmiller/cycle_effects_on_tips.pdf | accessdate = 2008-01-21 | doi = 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2007.06.002|format=PDF}}</ref><!--
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--><ref>Study that found male [[Human sexual behavior|sexual behavior]] is not affected by female fertility:
  +
:{{cite journal | author= Susan B. Bullivant, Sarah A. Sellergren, Kathleen Stern, et al. | title= Women's sexual experience during the menstrual cycle: identification of the sexual phase by noninvasive measurement of luteinizing hormone | journal=Journal of Sex Research | month=February | year=2004 | volume=41 | issue=1 | pages=82–93 | url=http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_1_41/ai_n6032944 | pmid=15216427}}</ref> [[Orangutan]]s also lack visible signs of impending ovulation.<ref name=knott>{{cite web | last = Knott | first = Cheryl | title = Orangutans: Reproduction and Life History | work = Gunung Palung Orangutan Project | publisher = Harvard University | year = 2003 | url = http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~gporang/orangutans.html | accessdate = 2008-10-05}}</ref> Also, it has been said that the extended estrus period of the [[bonobo]] (reproductive-age females are in heat for 75% of their menstrual cycle)<!--
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--><ref>{{cite book |author=Lanting, Frans; Waal, F. B. M. de |title=Bonobo: the forgotten ape |publisher=University of California Press |location=Berkeley |year=1997 |pages=107 |isbn=0-520-20535-9 |url=http://www.serpentfd.org/a/dewall1997.html |accessdate=2007-09-05 }}</ref><!--
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--> has a similar effect to the lack of a "heat" in human females.<!--
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--><ref name=stanford>{{cite journal | last = Stanford | first = Craig B. | title = The Brutal Ape vs. the Sexy Ape? The Make-Love-Not-War Ape | journal = American Scientist | volume = 88 | issue = 2 | pages = 110 | date = March-April 2000 | doi = 10.1511/2000.2.110}}</ref>
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==References==
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{{reflist|2}}
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{{featured article}}
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{{Reproductive physiology}}
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{{Menstrual cycle}}
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[[Category:Female reproductive system]]
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[[Category:Gynecology]]
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[[Category:Menstrual cycle| ]]
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[[Category:Periodic phenomena]]
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{{Link FA|eo}}
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[[ar:دورة شهرية]]
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[[bg:Менструален цикъл]]
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[[bs:Menstrualni ciklus]]
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[[da:Kvindens ægløsningscyklus]]
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[[de:Menstruationszyklus]]
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[[es:Ciclo sexual femenino]]
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[[eo:Menstruo]]
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[[fa:عادت ماهانه]]
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[[fr:Cycle menstruel]]
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[[id:Menstruasi]]
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[[it:Ciclo mestruale]]
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[[he:וסת]]
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[[lv:Menstruālais cikls]]
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[[lt:Mėnesinių ciklas]]
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[[mr:मासिक पाळी]]
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[[nl:Menstruatiecyclus]]
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[[ja:月経]]
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[[no:Menstruasjon]]
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[[pl:Cykl miesiączkowy]]
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[[pt:Ciclo menstrual]]
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[[ru:Менструальный цикл]]
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[[sr:Менструација]]
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[[fi:Kuukautiskierto]]
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[[sv:Menstruation]]
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[[ta:மாதவிடாய்]]
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[[uk:Менструальний цикл]]
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[[vi:Chu kỳ kinh nguyệt]]
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[[zh:月經]]

Revision as of 17:27, 5 August 2009

File:MenstrualCycle2.png
Menstrual cycle

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The menstrual cycle is a cycle of physiological changes that occurs in fertile females. Overt menstruation (where there is blood flow from the vagina) occurs primarily in humans and close evolutionary relatives such as chimpanzees.<ref name=strassmann>Template:Cite journal</ref> Females of other species of placental mammal undergo estrous cycles, in which the endometrium is completely reabsorbed by the animal (covert menstruation) at the end of its reproductive cycle. This article focuses on the human menstrual cycle.

The menstrual cycle, under the control of the endocrine system, is necessary for reproduction. It may be divided into three distinct phases: menstruation, the follicular phase and the luteal phase.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8">Template:Cite book</ref> Ovulation defines the transition from the follicular phase to the luteal phase. The length of each phase varies from woman to woman and cycle to cycle, though the average menstrual cycle is 28 days.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> Hormonal contraception interferes with the normal hormonal changes with the aim of preventing reproduction.

Stimulated by gradually increasing amounts of estrogen in the follicular phase, menses slow then stop, and the lining of the uterus thickens. Follicles in the ovary begin developing under the influence of a complex interplay of hormones, and after several days one or occasionally two become dominant (non-dominant follicles atrophy and die). Approximately mid-cycle, 24-36 hours after the Luteinizing Hormone (LH) surges, the dominant follicle releases an ovum, or egg in an event called ovulation. After ovulation, the egg only lives for 24 hours or less without fertilization while the remains of the dominant follicle in the ovary become a corpus luteum; this body has a primary function of producing large amounts of progesterone. Under the influence of progesterone, the endometrium (uterine lining) changes to prepare for potential implantation of an embryo to establish a pregnancy. If implantation does not occur within approximately two weeks, the corpus luteum will involute, causing sharp drops in levels of both progesterone and estrogen. These hormone drops cause the uterus to shed its lining in a process termed menstruation.

In the menstrual cycle, changes occur in the female reproductive system as well as other systems (which lead to breast tenderness or mood changes, for example). A woman's first menstruation is termed menarche, and occurs typically around age 12. The end of a woman's reproductive phase is called the menopause, which commonly occurs somewhere between the ages of 45 and 55.

Terminology

The menarche is one of the later stages of puberty in girls. The average age of menarche in humans is 12 years, but is normal anywhere between ages 8 and 16. Factors such as heredity, diet and overall health can accelerate or delay menarche.<ref name=age>"At what age does a girl get her first period?," from Menstruation and the Menstrual Cycle, National Women's Health Information Center (accessed June 11, 2005)</ref> The cessation of menstrual cycles at the end of a woman's reproductive period is termed menopause. The average age of menopause in women is 50 years, with anywhere between 40 and 58 being common. Menopause before age 35 is considered premature. The age of menopause is largely a result of genetics; however, illnesses, certain surgeries, or medical treatments may cause menopause to occur earlier.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The length of a woman's menstrual cycle will typically vary, with some shorter cycles and some longer cycles. A woman who experiences variations of less than eight days between her longest cycles and shortest cycles is considered to have regular menstrual cycles. It is unusual for a woman to experience cycle length variations of less than four days. Length variation between eight and 20 days is considered moderately irregular. Variation of 21 days or more between a woman's shortest and longest cycle lengths is considered very irregular (see cycle abnormalities).<ref name=kippley>Template:Cite book</ref>

Phases

The menstrual cycle is divided into several phases. The average length of each phase is shown below:

Name of phase Average start day
assuming a 28-day cycle
Average end day
menstrual phase 1 4
follicular phase (also known as proliferative phase) 5 13
ovulation (not a phase, but an event dividing phases) 12 16
luteal phase (also known as secretory phase) 15 26
ischemic phase (some sources group this with luteal phase) 27 28

Menstruation

Template:Main Menstruation is also called menstrual bleeding, menses, catamenia or a period. The flow of menses normally serves as a sign that a woman has not become pregnant. (However, this cannot be taken as certainty, as a number of factors can cause bleeding during pregnancy; some factors are specific to early pregnancy, and some can cause heavy flow.)<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite journal</ref><ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> During the reproductive years, failure to menstruate may provide the first indication to a woman that she may have become pregnant.

Eumenorrhea denotes normal, regular menstruation that lasts for a few days (usually 3 to 5 days, but anywhere from 2 to 7 days is considered normal).<ref name="US-typical">Template:Cite web</ref><ref name=allmenses>Template:Cite web</ref> The average blood loss during menstruation is 35 milliliters with 10–80 ml considered normal.<ref name=bloodloss>Template:Cite web</ref> (Because of this blood loss, women are more susceptible to iron deficiency than are men.)<ref name=iron>Template:Cite journal</ref> An enzyme called plasmin inhibits clotting in the menstrual fluid.<ref name=plasmin>Template:Cite journal</ref> Cramping in the abdomen, back, or upper thighs is common during the first few days of menstruation. When menstruation begins, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) such as breast tenderness and irritability generally decrease.<ref name=allmenses/> Many sanitary products are marketed to women for use during their menstruation.

Follicular phase

Template:Main This phase is also called the proliferative phase because a hormone causes the lining of the uterus to grow, or proliferate, during this time.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/>

Through the influence of a rise in follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) during the first days of the cycle, a few ovarian follicles are stimulated.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> These follicles, which were present at birth<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> and have been developing for the better part of a year in a process known as folliculogenesis, compete with each other for dominance. Under the influence of several hormones, all but one of these follicles will stop growing, while one dominant follicle in the ovary will continue to maturity. The follicle that reaches maturity is called a tertiary, or Graafian, follicle, and it forms the ovum.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/>

As they mature, the follicles secrete increasing amounts of estradiol, an estrogen. The estrogens initiate the formation of a new layer of endometrium in the uterus, histologically identified as the proliferative endometrium. The estrogen also stimulates crypts in the cervix to produce fertile cervical mucus, which may be noticed by women practicing fertility awareness.<ref name=tcoyf2>Template:Cite book</ref>

Ovulation

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File:Ovulation.jpg
An ovary about to release an egg.

When the egg has nearly matured, the level of estradiol in the body has increased enough to trigger a sudden release of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the anterior pituitary gland.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> In the average cycle this LH surge starts around cycle day 12 and may last 48 hours. The release of LH matures the egg and weakens the wall of the follicle in the ovary, causing the fully developed follicle to release its secondary oocyte.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> The secondary oocyte promptly matures into an ootid and then becomes a mature ovum. The mature ovum has a diameter of about 0.2 mm.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Which of the two ovaries—left or right—ovulates appears essentially random; no known left/right co-ordination exists.<ref name=ov>Template:Cite journal</ref> Occasionally, both ovaries will release an egg;<ref name=ov/> if both eggs are fertilized, the result is fraternal twins.<ref name=twins>Template:Cite web</ref>

After being released from the ovary, the egg is swept into the fallopian tube by the fimbria, which is a fringe of tissue at the end of each fallopian tube. After about a day, an unfertilized egg will disintegrate or dissolve in the fallopian tube.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/>

Fertilization by a spermatozoon, when it occurs, usually takes place in the ampulla, the widest section of the fallopian tubes. A fertilized egg immediately begins the process of embryogenesis, or development. The developing embryo takes about three days to reach the uterus and another three days to implant into the endometrium.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> It has usually reached the blastocyst stage at the time of implantation.

In some women, ovulation features a characteristic pain called mittelschmerz (German term meaning middle pain).<ref name=allmenses/> The sudden change in hormones at the time of ovulation sometimes also causes light mid-cycle blood flow.<ref>Weschler (2002), p.65</ref>

Luteal phase

Template:Main The luteal phase is also called the secretory phase. An important role is played by the corpus luteum, the solid body formed in an ovary after the egg has been released from the ovary into the fallopian tube. This body continues to grow for some time after ovulation and produces significant amounts of hormones, particularly progesterone.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> Progesterone plays a vital role in making the endometrium receptive to implantation of the blastocyst and supportive of the early pregnancy; it also has the side effect of raising the woman's basal body temperature.<ref name=tcoyf>Weschler (2002), pp.361-2</ref>

After ovulation, the pituitary hormones FSH and LH cause the remaining parts of the dominant follicle to transform into the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone and estrogens. The hormones produced by the corpus luteum also suppress production of the FSH and LH that the corpus luteum needs to maintain itself. Consequently, the level of FSH and LH fall quickly over time, and the corpus luteum subsequently atrophies.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/> Falling levels of progesterone trigger menstruation and the beginning of the next cycle. From the time of ovulation until progesterone withdrawal has caused menstruation to begin, the process typically takes about two weeks, with ten to sixteen days considered normal. For an individual woman, the follicular phase often varies in length from cycle to cycle; by contrast, the length of her luteal phase will be fairly consistent from cycle to cycle.<ref>Weschler (2002), p.47</ref>

The loss of the corpus luteum can be prevented by fertilization of the egg; the resulting embryo produces human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is very similar to LH and which can preserve the corpus luteum. Because the hormone is unique to the embryo, most pregnancy tests look for the presence of hCG.<ref name="isbn0-07-303120-8"/>

Fertile window

The most fertile period (the time with the highest likelihood of pregnancy resulting from sexual intercourse) covers the time from some 5 days before until 1–2 days after ovulation.<ref>Weschler (2002), pp.242,374</ref> In an average 28 day cycle with a 14-day luteal phase, this corresponds to the second and the beginning of the third week. However, few cycles are exactly average. A variety of methods have been developed to help individual women estimate the relatively fertile and the relatively infertile days in the cycle: these systems are called fertility awareness.

Fertility awareness methods that rely on cycle length records alone are called calendar-based methods.<ref name=who>Template:Cite paper</ref> Methods that require observation of one or more of the three primary fertility signs (basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and cervical position)<ref>Weschler (2002), p.52</ref> are known as symptoms-based methods.<ref name=who/> Urine test kits are available that detect the LH surge that occurs 24 to 36 hours before ovulation; these are known as ovulation predictor kits (OPKs).<ref>Template:MedlinePlus</ref> Computerized devices that interpret basal body temperatures, urinary test results, or changes in saliva are called fertility monitors.

A woman's fertility is also affected by her age.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> As a woman's total egg supply is formed in fetal life,<ref>Template:Cite web Template:Cite web</ref> to be ovulated decades later, it has been suggested that this long lifetime may make the chromatin of eggs more vulnerable to division problems, breakage, and mutation than the chromatin of sperm, which are produced continuously during a man's reproductive life.

Effect on other systems

Some women with neurological conditions experience increased activity of their conditions at about the same time during each menstrual cycle. Many women with epilepsy have more seizures in a pattern linked to the menstrual cycle; this is called "catamenial epilepsy".<ref name=pmid18164632>Template:Cite journal</ref> Different patterns seem to exist (such as seizures coinciding with the time of menstruation, or coinciding with the time of ovulation), and the frequency with which they occur has not been firmly established. Using one particular definition, one group of scientists found that around one-third of women with intractable partial epilepsy have catamenial epilepsy.<ref name=pmid18164632/><ref name=pmid15349872>Template:Cite journal</ref><ref name=pmid9579954>Template:Cite journal</ref> An effect of hormones has been proposed, in which progesterone declines and estrogen increases would trigger seizures.<ref name=pmid16981857>Template:Cite journal</ref> Studies by medical journals have found that women experiencing menses are 1.68 percent more likely to commit suicide.<ref name=SuicideRatesPsyMed>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Mice have been used as an experimental system to investigate possible mechanisms by which levels of sex steroid hormones might regulate nervous system function. During the part of the mouse estrous cycle when progesterone is highest, the level of nerve-cell GABA receptor subtype delta was high. Since these GABA receptors are inhibitory, nerve cells with more delta receptors are less likely to fire than cells with lower numbers of delta receptors. During the part of the mouse estrous cycle when estrogen levels are higher than progesterone levels, the number of delta receptors decrease, increasing nerve cell activity, in turn increasing anxiety and seizure susceptibility.<ref name=Maguire>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Estrogen levels may affect thyroid behavior.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> For example, during the luteal phase (when estrogen levels are lower), the velocity of blood flow in the thyroid is lower than during the follicular phase (when estrogen levels are higher).<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Among women living closely together, the onsets of menstruation may tend to synchronize somewhat. This McClintock effect was first described in 1971, and possibly explained by the action of pheromones in 1998.<ref name=Mclintock>Template:Cite journal</ref> However, subsequent research has called this hypothesis into question.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Cycle abnormalities

Template:Main Infrequent or irregular ovulation is called oligoovulation.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The absence of ovulation is called anovulation. Normal menstrual flow can occur without ovulation preceding it: an anovulatory cycle. In some cycles, follicular development may start but not be completed; nevertheless, estrogens will form and will stimulate the uterine lining. Anovulatory flow resulting from a very thick endometrium caused by prolonged, continued high estrogen levels is called estrogen breakthrough bleeding. Anovulatory bleeding triggered by a sudden drop in estrogen levels is called estrogen withdrawal bleeding.<ref name=tcoyf3>Weschler (2002), p.107</ref> Anovulatory cycles commonly occur prior to menopause (perimenopause) and in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.<ref name=emed2>Template:EMedicine</ref>

Very little flow (less than 10ml) is called hypomenorrhea. Regular cycles with intervals of 21 days or fewer are polymenorrhea; frequent but irregular menstruation is known as metrorrhagia. Sudden heavy flows or amounts in excess of 80 ml are termed menorrhagia.<ref name=emed1>Template:EMedicine</ref> Heavy menstruation that occurs frequently and irregularly is menometrorrhagia. The term for cycles with intervals exceeding 35 days is oligomenorrhea.<ref name=afp>Template:Cite journal</ref> Amenorrhea refers to more than three<ref name=emed1/> to six<ref name=afp/> months without menses (in the absence of pregnancy) during a woman's reproductive years.

Ovulation suppression

Hormonal contraception

Template:Main

File:Pillpacketopen.jpg
Half-used blister pack of a combined oral contraceptive. The white pills are placebos.

While some forms of birth control do not affect the menstrual cycle, hormonal contraceptives work by disrupting it. Progestogen negative feedback decreases the pulse frequency of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) release by the hypothalamus, which decreases the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and greatly decreases the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) by the anterior pituitary. Decreased levels of FSH inhibit follicular development, preventing an increase in estradiol levels. Progestogen negative feedback and the lack of estrogen positive feedback on LH release prevent a mid-cycle LH surge. Inhibition of follicular development and the absence of a LH surge prevent ovulation.<ref name=hatcher>Template:Cite book</ref><ref name=speroff>Template:Cite book</ref><ref name=loose>Template:Cite book</ref>

The degree of ovulation suppression in progestogen-only contraceptives depends on the progestogen activity and dose. Low dose progestogen-only contraceptives—traditional progestogen only pills, subdermal implants Norplant and Jadelle, and intrauterine system Mirena—inhibit ovulation in ~50% of cycles and rely mainly on other effects, such as thickening of cervical mucus, for their contraceptive effectiveness.<ref name=glasier>Template:Cite book</ref> Intermediate dose progestogen-only contraceptives—the progestogen-only pill Cerazette and the subdermal implant Implanon—allow some follicular development but more consistently inhibit ovulation in 97–99% of cycles. The same cervical mucus changes occur as with very low dose progestogens. High dose progestogen-only contraceptives—the injectables Depo-Provera and Noristerat—completely inhibit follicular development and ovulation.<ref name=glasier/>

Combined hormonal contraceptives include both an estrogen and a progestogen. Estrogen negative feedback on the anterior pituitary greatly decreases the release of FSH, which makes combined hormonal contraceptives more effective at inhibiting follicular development and preventing ovulation. Estrogen also reduces the incidence of irregular breakthrough bleeding.<ref name=hatcher/><ref name=speroff/><ref name=loose/> Several combined hormonal contraceptives—the pill, NuvaRing, and the contraceptive patch—are usually used in a way that causes regular withdrawal bleeding. In a normal cycle, menstruation occurs when estrogen and progesterone levels drop rapidly.<ref name=tcoyf/> Temporarily discontinuing use of combined hormonal contraceptives (a placebo week, not using patch or ring for a week) has a similar effect of causing the uterine lining to shed. If withdrawal bleeding is not desired, combined hormonal contraceptives may be taken continuously, although this increases the risk of breakthrough bleeding.

Lactational amenorrhea

Template:Main Breastfeeding causes negative feedback to occur on pulse secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Depending on the strength of the negative feedback, breastfeeding women may experience complete suppression of follicular development, follicular development but no ovulation, or normal menstrual cycles may resume.<ref name=mcneilly>Template:Cite journal</ref> Suppression of ovulation is more likely when suckling occurs more frequently.<ref name=kippley>Template:Cite book</ref> The production of prolactin in response to suckling is important to maintaining lactational amenorrhea.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> On average, women who are fully breastfeeding whose infants suckle frequently experience a return of menstruation at fourteen and a half months postpartum. There is a wide range of response between individual breastfeeding women, however, with some experiencing return of menstruation at two months and others remaining amenorrheic for up to 42 months postpartum.<ref>Template:Cite web, which cites:

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Template:Cite journal and 13(4): 5.</ref>

Etymological and biological associations

Nightlighting and the moon

Template:Seealso The word "menstruation" is etymologically related to "moon". The terms "menstruation" and "menses" are derived from the Latin mensis (month), which in turn relates to the Greek mene (moon) and to the roots of the English words month and moon—reflecting the fact that the moon also takes close to 28 days to revolve around the Earth (actually 27.32 days). The synodical lunar month, the period between two new moons (or full moons), is 29.53 days long.

The Talmudic tradition<ref>Talmud Shavuot 18:b.</ref> ascribes a direct relationship between the lunar position and the onset of menstruation. The Hebrew month, lunisolar, follows the lunar cycle (new moon, full moon etc.) Talmudic codes of law<ref>Yoreh Deah Chapter 189:2. See: Family Purity—Guide to Marital Fulfillment (Chapter 14) by Rabbi Fishel Jacobs, published by Campus Living and Learning, Inc. 2001.</ref>, therefore, forbid intimacy during the Hebrew date on which menstruation had begun the prior month -- perchance it will appear again on this date.

Some authors believe women in traditional societies without nightlighting ovulated with the full moon and menstruated with the new moon.<ref>Template:Cite journal
Template:Cite journal
Template:Cite book</ref> A few studies in both humans<ref>Singer, Katie. "Fertility Awareness, Food, and Night-Lighting". Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, Spring 2004. See section on Night-Lighting.</ref> and animals<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> have found that artificial light at night does influence the menstrual cycle in humans and the estrus cycle in mice (cycles are more regular in the absence of artificial light at night), though none have demonstrated the synchronization of women's menstrual cycles with the lunar cycle. It has also been suggested that bright light exposure in the morning promotes more regular cycles.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> One author has suggested that sensitivity of women's cycles to nightlighting is caused by nutritional deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Other animals' menstrual cycles may be greatly different from lunar cycles: while the average cycle length in orangutans is the same as in humans—28 days<ref name=knott/>—the average for chimpanzees is 35 days.<ref name=chimp>Template:Cite journal</ref> Some take this as evidence that the average length of humans' cycle is most likely a coincidence.<ref>As cited by Adams, Cecil, "What's the link between the moon and menstruation?" (accessed 6 June 2006):
Template:Cite book</ref><ref>Template:Cite journal
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Estrus and menstruation

Template:Seealso Females of most mammal species advertise fertility to males with visual behavioral cues, pheromones, or both.<ref name=britannica>Template:Cite encyclopedia</ref> This period of advertised fertility is known as estrus or heat.<ref name=britannica/> In species that experience estrus, females are generally only receptive to copulation while they are in heat<ref name=britannica/> (dolphins are an exception).<ref>Template:Cite web, which references:

Template:Cite book</ref> In the estrous cycles of most placental mammals, if no fertilization takes place, the uterus reabsorbs the endometrium. This breakdown of the endometrium without vaginal discharge is sometimes called covert menstruation.<ref name=profet>Template:Cite journal</ref> Overt menstruation (where there is blood flow from the vagina) occurs primarily in humans and close evolutionary relatives such as chimpanzees.<ref name=strassmann/> Some species, such as domestic dogs, experience small amounts of vaginal bleeding while in heat; this discharge has a different physiologic cause than menstruation.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

A few mammals do not experience obvious, visible signs of fertility (concealed ovulation). In humans, while women can be taught to recognize their own level of fertility (fertility awareness), whether men can detect fertility in women is debated; recent studies have given conflicting results.<ref>Studies that found women are more attractive to men when fertile:

Template:Cite journal
Template:Cite journal</ref><ref>Study that found male sexual behavior is not affected by female fertility:
Template:Cite journal</ref> Orangutans also lack visible signs of impending ovulation.<ref name=knott>Template:Cite web</ref> Also, it has been said that the extended estrus period of the bonobo (reproductive-age females are in heat for 75% of their menstrual cycle)<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> has a similar effect to the lack of a "heat" in human females.<ref name=stanford>Template:Cite journal</ref>

References

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