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Key Ideas

  • The pituitary gland produces gonadotropins (FSH and LH) resulting in two cycles-the ovarian cycle that involves egg maturation and release and the menstrual cycle which prepares the uterus every month for possible implantation.
  • While boys produce a steady supply of sperm through their adult lives, women are born with a finite number of eggs, only a fraction of which ever mature between puberty and menopause.
  • Menarche is a girl's first period. Her periods may be irregular for a while, but then settle down to a fairly predictable cycle-about 28 days in length, with each period lasting 2-7 days.
  • Menstruation may cause some discomfort due to cramping or premenstrual syndrome, both of which can be managed through diet, exercise, or mild medical treatment.

Overview

This section is a detailed description of the menstrual cycle. Students use graphs to determine the ways in which the hormonal, ovarian, and menstrual cycles are connected. They examine what is taking place in each cycle at a given moment, then describe what they observe. Students are informed about the process of menstruation and how the flow is managed by the use of tampons or pads. The fact that periods are often irregular at first is brought up, as well as the fact that some women experience some discomfort, while other women barely notice that they are menstruating. Through discussion groups, girls examine their feelings about menstruation, and boys learn to understand what girls experience each month.

Objectives

Students:

\checkmark interpret data from related charts and diagrams.

\checkmark explain the relationship between the hormonal, ovarian, and menstrual cycles during each phase of menstruation.

\checkmark discuss the experience of menstruation.

Vocabulary

anemia, dysmenorrhea, follicle, ovulation, premenstrual tension syndrome, toxic shock syndrome, uterus

Student Materials

Activity 5 -1: How Does the Menstrual Cycle Work?

  • Activity Report

Teacher Materials

Activity 5-1: How Does the Menstrual Cycle Work?

  • Activity Report Answer Key

Advance Preparation

See Activity 5-1 in the student edition.

Activity 5-1: How Does the Menstrual Cycle Work?

  • Carefully review the charts and diagrams prior to teaching the lesson. They are complex.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Math Students calculate percentages.

Language Arts Several of the What Do You Think? questions lend themselves to debate. Discussion groups help students develop communication skills, and can lead to essay or journal writing.

Background Information

The idea that menstruation renders a women “unclean” is an ancient belief that has been part of many cultures, including Judaism. However, the Old Testament also considers men to be “unclean” after ejaculation, although that fact has not attracted as much public attention. It is not clear why a normal bodily function should have taken on such a ritualistic meaning. Ancient societies may have been awed by bodily fluids that are associated with the reproductive organs. Blood, in particular, has induced both awe and fear as the vital fluid that sustains life.

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