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Hormones and Your Menstrual Cycle

A woman's menstrual cycle (monthly period) is controlled by changing levels of certain hormones. These hormones travel through the blood. Two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, play a big role in the menstrual cycle. They are produced in the ovaries (where eggs are stored).

Outline of woman showing reproductive organs: uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Cross section of uterus with arrows showing estrogen and progesterone being released from ovary and acting on lining of uterus. Egg is released from ovary into fallopian tube. Uterine lining thickens and is shed.

The menstrual cycle

Hormones help prepare the uterus for pregnancy. At the start of the cycle, the 2 ovaries produce estrogen. This makes 1 ovary release an egg, and signals the production of progesterone. The egg travels through the fallopian tube. Then it enters the uterus. If the egg is fertilized, a woman becomes pregnant. If this doesn't happen, the egg is shed along with the uterine lining. This bleeding is called menstruation.

Symptoms you may have

Days 1 to 7

  • Menstrual bleeding

  • Cramping

  • Headache

Days 8 to 14

  • Increased and thickened vaginal mucus

  • Higher energy

Days 15 to 28

  • Bloating

  • Tiredness

  • Cramping

  • Irritability

  • Breast tenderness

Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Last Review Date: 5/13/2015
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