The Trying to Conceive and Just Starting Out Primer

This is a "primer" created by Krista (Rudylover) and posted by Jennifer (Tigger062077). We made this as a source of information for the "newbies" who are afraid to ask a "silly question"...and for the "oldies" who have been doing this so long they've forgotten the basics.

If you want to reach us, you can reach Jennifer at and Krista at

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Menstrual Cycle

A menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period. It ends the day before you get your next period. (Most of us on JSO agree that you count the first day of red flow as cd 1, and not brown/pink spotting.) While 28 day cycles are considered the textbook norm, it is very normal to have longer or shorter cycles on a regular basis. Sources differ on how big the “normal” range is, but 24 – 36 days per cycle is probably a reasonable length. Your cycles may or may not be consistent and may vary in length from cycle to cycle.

The menstrual cycle is divided into 2 phases: The Follicular Phase and the Luteal Phase.

The Follicular phase begins when you get your period and ends the day you ovulate. This is the time the egg matures and gets ready for release from the ovary. The Follicular Phase can vary greatly in length from cycle to cycle. It can be affected by stress or illness…etc and become longer or shorter than what is normal for you.

The Luteal Phase is the time between ovulation and when you get your next period. This phase is fairly steady in length for each woman and should not vary more than a day or two from what is normal for that woman. The textbook norm Luteal Phase is 14 days, though the average woman has a luteal phase falling somewhere from 12 – 16 days and this is very normal. I actually see a fair number of women on the TTC boards of having regular LP’s of 10 – 17 days. Many experts feel as long as your LP is at least 10 days that it is adequate for TTC, though some experts suggest 12 days as the minimum acceptable length. If your normal LP is shorter than 10 days or longer than 17 days, you should see a doctor to get checked out.

How will you know how long your Luteal Phase is? Well, you won’t know unless you are charting your fertility signs. If you are interested in this topic, I suggest you read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. You might also find some helpful information on websites that allow you track your fertility signs such as Fertility Friendor My Monthly Cycles.

The bottom line is, there is no need to freak out if your cycles aren’t 28 days long and it is perfectly normal for your cycle length and ovulation day to vary.