Nearly half of the female population do not know what is happening inside their bodies while on their period. Understanding your menstrual cycle is extremely important since your period can impact your whole body. Here we are going to break the silence and speak out about the period subject to better understand our bodies.
The period topic should not be shamed or silenced, this process is normal, beautiful, and plays a huge part in your overall health.
The menstrual cycle has six phases.
- Menstruation: The period is the shedding of the uterine lining. Levels of estrogen and progesterone are low.
- The follicular phase: The time between the first day of the period and ovulation. Estrogen rises as an egg prepares to be released.
- The proliferative phase: After the period, the uterine lining builds back up again.
- Ovulation: The release of the egg from the ovary, mid-cycle. Estrogen peaks just beforehand, and then drops shortly afterward.
- The luteal phase: The time between ovulation and before the start of menstruation, when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. Progesterone is produced, peaks, and then drops.
- The secretory phase: The uterine lining produces chemicals that will either help support an early pregnancy or will prepare the lining to break down and shed if pregnancy doesn’t occur.
Part one of the Cycle:
Let us dive a bit deeper into the six phases of the menstrual cycle.
The first part of the cycle starts with the first day of your period (menstruation). This is when the old tissue and blood from inside your cervix and uterus is discarded through the vagina. The average length of a period is 5-6 days.
The follicular phase. This part of the cycle starts on the first date of your period through ovulation. The follicular phase is when the brain starts sending signals (Follicle-stimulating hormone) to your ovaries to prepare an egg to be released (ovulate). The follicular phase usually lasts 10-22days on average.
Next, we have the proliferative phase. This is when the uterus starts to rebuild a thick inner lining as a response to the high levels of estrogen being produced from the follicular phase.
The proliferative phase is to prepare the uterus for the implantation of a fertilized egg. This phase lasts from the end of your period to the start of ovulation.
The ovulation phase is where the ovary releases an egg in the fallopian tube. When the estrogen levels are high enough the brain creates an increase in the luteinizing hormone causing ovulation.
Part two of the cycle:
The Luteal phase is when the sac that contains the egg starts to produce estrogen and progesterone. At this stage, the follicle that contained the egg turned into a corpus luteum that produces progesterone and estrogen. This phase happens from the day of ovulation up until the first day of your NEXT period. These hormonal changes are the main causes of premenstrual symptoms such as headaches, breast tenderness, bloating, mood changes, Etc.
At this point, if an egg is fertilized the progesterone from the corpus luteum supports the fertilization (early pregnancy). Yet when the egg isn’t fertilized the corpus luteum will start to break itself apart at about day 11-19 after ovulation, this will cause a drop in estrogen and progesterone and start the menstrual cycle all over again starting with your period.
The secretory phase is when the lining of the uterus will start to release chemicals to help the pregnancy if an egg was fertilized or break down the endometrial walls.
The best way to understand your cycle is to have a way of tracking your period whether that be with a period app or a period journal. Keeping track of your period can help with your overall health. An example of a great period app would be the Glow App, this particular app tracks your period and gives you a great view of your cycle analysis based on your period. This app allows you to view when your next period will occur, your most fertile days, your follicular phase, your luteal phase, etc. (not sponsored).
Acknowledge your period, and learn to admire it, the more you understand it the less miserable your cycle will be. Open the conversation and ask questions you may have with your midwife at your next well women check (GYN appointment/annual).
Below I will list great period tracking apps.