Understanding the biology of your menstrual cycle

Virtually everything related to women’s health comes back to our menstrual cycle. If you’re interested in a deeper dive into the biology, read on.

This is a simplified version of the cycle.

Normal Menstrual Cycle
Illustration by iStock Photo

Before we head toward the pelvic, uterus and ovaries, here’s a drawing I made that shows the influence of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in the brain.

Glossary of terms:

ACTH: Adrenocortiotropin Hormone: Acts at the Adrenal glands
FSH: Follicle Stimulating Hormone: works at the ovary to stimulate the production of follicles, which contain the eggs
GNRH: Gonadatropin Releasing Hormone
Gonadatropins: are hormones that are specific to the gonads (ovaries and testes)
LH: Luteinizing Hormone: works at the ovary to stimulate ovulation
Prolactin: works at the breast to stimulate milk production
TSH: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

The Biology of the Menstrual Cycle:

The Quickest Explanation

So, now you know! I hope this helps and please feel free to share this with anyone in a biology class who needs the simplified explanation.

Understanding this will help you understand:

Fertility Concerns

  • Why the birth control pill is made of Estrogen and Progesterone
  • Why women who don’t ovulate have irregular and heavy cycles
  • Why Estrogen levels drop at menopause, when there are no more eggs

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