YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE, EXPLAINED

By: FemmyCycle

Menstruation. Follicular phase. Ovulation. Luteal phase. Although our bodies go through a monthly hormonal cycle for about 40 years, there’s so much to know and learn about this amazing transformation.

For example, did you know that your hormones, mood, energy levels, cravings, heart rate, blood pressure, and cervix height fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle?

FemmyCycle is committed to helping empower women through education. And, at the end of this, we know you’ll be able to adjust your day-to-day activities and boost your connection to your body. After all, knowledge is power.

Let’s sync up.

What is the menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle is a hormonal process a menstruator’s body goes through to prepare for a possible pregnancy. In technical terms, the menstrual cycle is considered: “an essential life rhythm governed by interacting levels of progesterone, estradiol, follicular stimulating, and luteinizing hormones.” Lasting an average of 3-7 days, during the menstrual cycle your body sheds the uterine lining (assuming no egg was fertilized during ovulation). At the start of menstruation, your energy and hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are at their lowest levels. Cramps, bloating, irritability, and inflammation are common due to the decline in progesterone, and gentle to moderate exercise can help reduce period symptoms and release endorphins during this time.

How long is the menstrual cycle?
Your menstrual cycle starts from the first day of your period (Day 1) and lasts until the first day of your next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but each person’s period can vary from month-to-month. A period is considered “regular” if the period comes every 24 to 38 days, meaning that the time from the first day of the last period until the start of the next period is at least 24 days but no more than 38 days. Learn more.

What are the phases of the menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle is divided into two phases. The first half of the menstrual cycle consists of the follicular phase, which begins with menstruation and ends right before ovulation. The second half of the menstrual cycle consists of the luteal phase, which begins right after ovulation and ends at the start of menstruation.

Tell me more about the follicular phase
The follicular phase begins at the start of menstruation (day 1 of your period) and lasts an average of 16 days, ending right before ovulation. Although estrogen levels are at their lowest at the start of menstruation, they continue to rise after your period and are highest as the body prepares for an egg to be released in ovulation. The increase in estrogen and progesterone typically results in an increase in energy, endurance, and mood.

Let’s talk more about ovulation
Ovulation lasts 1-2 days and occurs when the ovaries release an egg for fertilization in preparation for a potential pregnancy. Estrogen levels are highest right before ovulation and decrease right after. Testosterone levels also peak during this time, and the increase in testosterone and estrogen levels result in increased energy levels, libido, and confidence.

Let’s Recap the Luteal Phase
The luteal phase lasts an average of 14 days, beginning right after ovulation and ending right at menstruation, kicking off the start of the follicular phase. Progesterone levels rise and peak about halfway through the luteal phase, and then fall if an egg is not fertilized and no pregnancy occurs. The increase in progesterone levels is attributed to PMS and PMDD symptoms which can include food cravings, inflammation, irritability and mood changes, and stress. As the body prepares for menstruation, progesterone and estrogen levels fall throughout the luteal phase and are at their lowest at the start of menstruation.

To continue the conversation, check out our tips for keeping your body and mind in tip-top shape here.

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