Updated: Feb 14
Is it that time of the month again? When it comes to the menstrual cycle, women are dealing with two aspects, menstruation and ovulation. While these two cycles are very different, they work closely together.
Many women tend to pair these two processes as the same thing, but they are very much different. Although ovulation might come later in the cycle, its success or failure is what decides whether or not you menstruate during the following month. From the ovaries to the uterus, let’s talk about the differences between menstruation and ovulation.
A woman’s menstrual cycle begins with the first day of her period and ends on the first day of her next period. While the average is said to be around 28 days, this number can vary between 21 to even 35 days. During this menstrual cycle, women will have two phases: ovulation and menstruation. While menstruation occurs first during the cycle, whether or not it happens depends on what happened in the previous cycle during ovulation. What exactly is ovulation? Let’s dive in!
The process of ovulation is one of the most important in the female body because this helps determine if a woman will get pregnant. In a process that takes places between the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and uterus, ovulation begins in the ovaries. Part of the female reproductive system, women are born with two ovaries.
By the time a woman is born, her ovaries already have approximately two million eggs. While the ovaries are responsible for housing the eggs, a woman will not produce any more eggs during her lifetime. In fact, she’ll lose thousands and thousands of eggs each year before putting them to use during ovulation.
Ovulation begins in the ovaries and each month, one egg is sent into the Fallopian tubes. Usually occurring around Day 14 of the menstrual cycle, the egg sits in the Fallopian tubes waiting to be fertilized. If the egg gets fertilized, it travels from the tubes into the uterus where it will begin to develop into a baby. This signifies pregnancy! During the ovulation process, if the egg doesn’t get fertilized, this is what leads to menstruation during your next cycle.
Menstruation marks the beginning of the menstrual cycle, but it is highly dependent upon the results of ovulation. In order to properly explain it, let’s talk about Cycle 1 and Cycle 2. Cycle 1 will begin with the arrival of your period. After it has finished, your body will go into the luteal phase. This phase happens between menstruation and ovulation and prepares your body for pregnancy.
During this time, the uterine lining begins to thicken in case an egg gets fertilized. If fertilization doesn’t occur, this is what causes your period that begins Cycle 2. After the body realizes that the egg has not been fertilized, the uterine lining begins to shed and it sends the unfertilized egg to the uterus. The egg and the uterine lining appear as your period at the beginning of Cycle 2 and then your body repeats the entire process!
If you’ve been going through your menstrual cycle for a long time, a lot of this information might seem basic. The process might even seem a bit bland to you, but it’s not! With menstruation and ovulation, these two phases are responsible for every single person to have ever walked the earth!