Your menstrual cycle

One of the reasons it’s wise to use contraception is to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. That’s why it makes sense to understand your menstrual cycle, especially if you're going to use hormonal contraceptives like the birth control pill.

Smart tip: If you opt for the birth control pill,
you still need to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
So speak to your healthcare professional about your best options!

Understanding your menstrual cycle

Your menstrual cycle is a natural process that prepares your body for pregnancy. The female sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone), together with hormones produced by the pituitary gland (luteinising hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone), control the whole process.  They trigger the development of an egg and, during a process called ‘ovulation’, the egg is released from your ovary.

At the same time, the lining of your uterus (womb) changes to become thicker to prepare your womb for receiving the fertilised egg. If you don’t become pregnant in that cycle, the lining of the womb disintegrates and is shed in menstruation or your ‘period’. Your menstrual cycle takes about 28 days, but it can vary anywhere between 21 to 38 days.

The 4 stages in your menstrual cycle