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The menstrual cycle is the series of changes the body goes through to prepare for a possible pregnancy. About once a month, the lining of the uterus (endometrium) starts to thicken. Then an ovary releases an egg. If the egg is fertilized by sperm and attaches to the lining of the uterus (implants), pregnancy begins. If the egg isn't fertilized or a fertilized egg doesn't implant, the uterus sheds its lining. This is the monthly menstrual bleeding, or period. Periods happen from the early teen years until menopause, around age 50.
A normal cycle lasts from 21 to 35 days. Count from the first day of one menstrual period until the first day of your next period to find the number of days in your cycle.
You may have no discomfort during your menstrual cycles. Or you may have mild to severe symptoms. If you have problems, ask your doctor about over-the-counter medicine. It may help relieve pain and bleeding.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Tampons or menstrual cups may work well for activities that you can't use pads, such as swimming. You may have to try different products to find out what is right for you. Whichever you use, be sure to change it regularly. This helps prevent leaking or infection.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.
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Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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