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How to work with the Menstrual Cycle

The menstrual cycle is very important as it prepares the body for pregnancy. But before you start revising all about the hormones which control it, why not find out how some other animals reproduce.

Usually it is the female of the species which  gets pregnant and produces babies. However, the seahorse and the sea-dragon are the exceptions to this, as it is actually the male which becomes pregnant and gives birth. The female will deposit her eggs in the male’s brood pouch, or sometimes attach them to his tail. He will then fertilise them, and after around two to four weeks will give birth to about one thousand fully formed seahorses. Male and female cichlids (a family  of fish) work as a team looking after the eggs until they hatch.  Taking turns, they keep the fertilised eggs in their mouth until they hatch. Unfortunately for the adult fish – they are unable to eat until the eggs hatch.

The Australian spider wasp has a more macabre way of reproducing. The female digs a burrow using spines on her front legs. Once completed, she will search for a spider, which could be as large as a huntsman spider – and much bigger than she is. She stings and paralyses the spider before dragging it back to her burrow,  and laying her egg inside it. Once the larva hatches it feeds off the spider.

GCSE scientists – you need to be able to explain the stages of the menstrual cycle, and how hormones control it. For help with this, try our new guide “How to work with the Menstrual Cycle”.  It includes a description of the stages, and how hormones interact to control it. As always there are questions to try, and answers to check understanding.

How to work with the menstrual cycle
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