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Hormones and Your Menstrual Cycle

A woman's monthly period (menstrual cycle) 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 made 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 get the uterus ready for pregnancy. The ovaries are stimulated to produce an egg through a complex hormonal process that includes the brain. The ovaries make the hormone estrogen. Once an egg is released from one of the ovaries, they make progesterone. After the egg is released it goes 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 occurs as progesterone levels drop quickly without pregnancy. This shedding leads to bleeding called menstruation.

Symptoms you may have

During your period you may have different physical and emotional symptoms. These can include:

Physical symptoms:

  • Menstrual bleeding

  • Cramping

  • Headache

  • Breast soreness

  • Bloating

  • Increased and thickened vaginal mucus

Emotional symptoms:

  • Tiredness

  • Sadness

  • Feeling grouchy

  • Feeling moody

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