Menstruation, Ovulation well explained, in lay man’s language
Three Young girls asked me this question.
Martha (10years): What is the meaning of Period or menstruation?
Chinenye (12years): Please can you explain to me fully how this menstruation of a thing comes about?
Prisca (9years): When am I suppose to see my first period? How does the menstruation start?
In this post, I want to take you down the details of what menstruation is all about. This is because, most of our young girls, especially those who are just coming up are not fully educated on the full details of what menstruation is.
Now lets start…What is menstruation?
When a baby is born, and the baby is a female, that female baby has inside her ovary what we call eggs or ovum. They are about 700,000 to 1,000,000 eggs as at this time of birth. Unlike man that keeps on producing sperms from the age of puberty till death, a woman does not produce any extra egg or ovum once she has been born. She is only going to use the ones that is present in her as at that time (about 700,000 to 1,000,000) till she dies.
At Puberty, which starts from the age of about 9-13 years, the girl is left with about 40,000 eggs or ovum. And am sure you will ask: what happened to the rest? Actually what happens is not magic. The rest of the eggs or ova are absorbed by the body…so do not fear, they did not disappear like magic.;)
Now, as a reminder, menstruation starts at this time called puberty. This is when you as a woman start loosing your eggs or ova monthly in a process of ovulation. Now lets discuss what actually happens.
How Menstruation starts
Every month, about 15-20 eggs or ova are recruited from your ovary, and they start maturing. Remember that before now, they do not undergo any form of maturation, they simply lie in the ovary as immature ova or eggs. So every month, your body gathers about 15-20 of the eggs or ova which will start maturing. But, only one of the eggs reaches full maturation.
The others are absorbed in the body.
Now the day your body started gathering of the 15-20 eggs to start maturing is the beginning or the first day of your menstrual cycle – day 1. So, keep this in mind, because it is very important for the counting.
Now just as I said before, only one of the eggs reach full maturity and is ovulated. Do not worry, I will explain what I mean by ovulation.
On the day 14 (a range of 12-16) of the menstrual cycle, the matured egg out of the 15-20 of them, is released from the ovary. This is what we call ovulation – the release of the fully matured egg from the ovary. Ovulation is different from menstruation, which you will see later. The egg released starts a journey through the Fallopian tube to the uterus(womb). This journey lasts about 5-6days.So it means that the egg will likely reach the uterus at about the day 20 or 21.
Remember, as this is going on, the uterus is preparing itself to receive a baby. So if the woman met a man within this time and if the man released sperm inside her body; the sperm will now meet the egg and fertilization is said to have occurred. And when this happens, it means there will not be any menstruation again throughout that pregnancy period.
NOTE: This fertilization occurs in the Fallopian tube before the egg reaches the uterus. Remember we are still at around the 22nd day of the menstrual cycle.
But if there was no sperm to fertilize the egg (ovum), then something very important happens: The uterus gets disappointed and starts shedding off its lining which it had prepared to receive a baby. It will start shedding off this lining. The shedding off of this lining of the uterus is accompanied by blood which starts flowing from your urogenital tract. This is what we call Menstruation – the outflow of blood and the mucus that was shed from the uterus through the genital tract as a result of non-fertilization of the egg or ovum.
This might cause you pain. Please try and differentiate this from ovulation.This menstruation starts exactly on day 28 of the menstrual cycle. And this 28th day is regarded as the last of the menstruation period as well as the first day of the next menstrual cycle. This is what will continue to happen every month (every 28 days) until the egg in the woman finishes, and we say the woman has reached menopause.
Note: These events do not occur in pregnancy. Once a woman becomes pregnant, the body senses it and stops ovulation and menstruation.
I hope i have educated you on the fact behind the blood you see in between your legs every 28 days.
Note: this is not mathematics, so it can vary from like 21 days to about 35 days.
Summary of difference between ovulation and menstruation
1. Ovulation is the release of the egg from the ovary while menstruation is the flow of blood from the genitalia due to the shedding of the uterine lining.
2. Ovulation occurs on day 14 (on average), while menstruation is on day 28 (on average) of the female menstrual calender.
3. Ovulation releases eggs while mentruation gets rid of uterine lining.
4. Ovulation is never seen or noticed, but menstruation is very visible.