Progesterone Research Network        

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Articles on Menstruation


General Overview on Menstruation
"I never really understood how the menstrual cycle works
and how I make progesterone and estrogen"

This is true for so many of us. We begin to have menstrual cycles, but never really know what is going on inside our bodies to cause this phenomena that affects us for about 40 years. It will probably not surprise you you to learn that it all starts in the brain.

Two hormones are prduced by the pituitary gland: FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (Luteinizing hormone). At puberty, these 2 hormone levels begin to rise, resulting in a menstrual cycle. Here is how it works:

When FSH rises every month, it stimulates eggs to grow in your ovaries. Next, the tissue surrounding the egg enlarges and matures into a follicle. As the follicle enlarges, it begins to make estrogen. Estrogen is the dominant hormone for the first week or so after menstruation. The estrogen stimulates your uterine lining to thicken in preparation for the embryo.

When LH rises, the follicle (tissue surrounding the egg) is stimulated to rupture and the egg is released from the ovary. This is known as ovulation. Many women have told us that they can actually feel it when their body ovulates.

The now empty follicle becomes the "corpus luteum", a small yellow body on the surface of the ovary. The corpus luteum is now the site of abundant progesteroneproduction which dominates the second half of the menstrual cycle. The progesterone stimulates the lining of the uterus in ways that will nourish a developing embryo. (see chart)

 

 

Note: the increase of progesterone at the time of ovulation causes a rise of body temperature of about one degree Fahrenheit, which is often used to predict ovulation.

If pregnancy does not occur within 10-12 days following ovulation, estrogen and progesterone levels fall abruptly which triggers menstruation. If pregnancy occurs, progesterone production increases and the shedding of the linning of your uterus is prevented.

For the average woman, this cycle takes about 28 days. However, cycles of 23 days can also be normal for some women. It should be noted that even though you have a period, you may not be producing an egg through ovulation.

In anovulatory cycles (no ovulation) no progesterone is made and estrogen dominance can prevail. Due to stress, environmental influences, diet, and past use of birth control pills, great numbers of women are not ovulating and therefore not producing progestrone. Estrogen dominance can occur. 

When the hormones are out of balance, many symptoms and conditions can arise. The good news is that Natural Progesterone can help balance the hormones and help with many of these symptoms and conditions. You were not designed to suffer! There is hope for your hormones!

Read more about Natural Progesterone