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Your menstrual cycle (text-only version)

Day 1 Your period begins and the flow is at its heaviest. You may have cramps, stomach pain, or lower back pain.

Day 2 Your period still likely is heavy, and you may have cramps or stomach pain.

Days 3/4 Your body removes the rest of the tissue in the uterus (womb). This sometimes can come out as dark clumps.

Days 5/6/7 There is still some blood, but the cramps should be over.

Days 8/9 The bleeding and pain usually are over.

Days 10/11/12 Your body should feel great! Even though you don’t have your period, changes are still happening in your reproductive system.

Days 13/14 Ovulation happens around this time. (Some women have cramps, but you likely won’t feel a thing when you ovulate.)

Days 15/16 Hormone levels rise. At the same time, your breasts may be tender.

Days 17/18/19/20 Your hormones are shifting, which can cause any or all of these symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Tender or sore breasts
  • Moodiness
  • Cramping

You may feel very emotional during this phase, but many young women do not have pain or mood changes at all.

Days 21/22 A drop in hormone levels can cause you to feel tired, and you may feel like you need more time alone. You may start to get pimples around this time.

Days 23/24 If you have PMS (premenstrual syndrome), you may have any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Worries about things that may not be important
  • Lack of interest in usual activities
  • Tiredness
  • Breast pain
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Food cravings
  • Trouble focusing

Days 25/26 Important hormones are at very low levels, so you may have even stronger PMS symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Worries about things that may not be important
  • Lack of interest in usual activities
  • Tiredness
  • Breast pain
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Food cravings
  • Trouble focusing

Days 27/28 This is the end of the menstrual cycle, and your hormone levels have gone way down. The lining of your womb gets ready to be shed during this time, and your body prepares to start the cycle again. Many women have cramps during this time, which can let you know that your period is about to begin.

 

Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated May 29, 2014

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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