Aside from humans, great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans) are the only animals that experience a true menstrual cycle. Old world monkeys (baboons, macaques, etc) are sometimes included in this, depending on how the terms are defined. Instead of menstrual cycles, placental mammals (such as dogs, cats, elephants, etc), and new world monkeys (howler, capuchin, spider monkeys, etc) experience an estrous cycle. Animals with menstrual cycles shed endometrium when conception does not occur; in an estrous cycle, the endometrium is reabsorbed rather than shed. Another difference between menstrual cyles and estrous cycles are the time in which sexual activity occurs. Animals that menstruate are sexually active at any time during their cycle, while animals with estrous cycles are only sexually active near the time of ovulation.
Primates, including chimpanzees and orangutans, are the only other mammals that experience menstrual cycles like humans do. However, other mammals (horses, dogs, cats, rats, mice, goats, elephants, pigs, cows, and sheep) experience an estrous cycle, which is similar to the menstrual cycle. The main difference between the estrous cycle and the menstrual cycle is that, in the estrous cycle, the animal absorbs the endometrial layer of its uterus, which is shed out of the body in mammals that menstruate. Animals that experience an estrous cycle are generally only sexually active during the estrous cycle, when they are in heat.
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