Get To Know Your Cycle – Part 1
As modern women, we know too little about our menstrual cycles. As a high school student, I used to see my period as such a painful part of my month–discomfort, pain, and moodiness!
Back then, nobody told me what really was happening in my body, and that lack of knowledge blocked me from connecting with my cycle and the superpower of giving life to another human.
Additionally, we’re facing an ever-growing number of people struggling to conceive. Infertility affects an estimated 15% of couples globally, amounting to 48.5 million couples. (1)
That’s why this article is dedicated to explaining our cycle, so you can educate yourself, your daughter and your friends on the wisdom and signs that our very own bodies give us every day of the month.
When we talk about the menstrual cycle, there are four main hormones you need to know about:
- FSH – Follicular Stimulating Hormone:
- LH – Luteinizing Hormone:
- Progesterone: Our cycle consist of four phases:
Follicular phase: Follicles are the sacs in your ovaries that contain eggs. During this part of your cycle, the follicles selected for that particular month begin to grow. The follicular phase starts with the first day of your period and ends with ovulation.
This phase can be considered the SPRING time inside your body as the estrogens levels go up, boosting your mood and your energy (2).
During these two weeks of your cycle you usually feel more energized and awakened as your whole body is working to produce life.
This is the time where everything is growing and these small follicles stimulated by FSH produce about 15 to 20 mature eggs in each ovary.
After this, follicles start producing estrogen and the race for a follicle to become the largest continues.
This phase can take 8 to 21 days depending of each woman’s body and circumstances.
The length of the follicular phase and how long it takes your body to ovulate depends on your body’s estrogen level. High levels of estrogen trigger the production of Luteinizing Hormone (LH).
Ovulation: this phase begins when an ovary releases a mature egg from the most dominant follicle. The unreleased eggs start to disintegrate in a process called atresia.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) helps the released egg to cross the fallopian wall within a day or so. Yes – this is your Peak Conception Day!
If conception occurs, the egg becomes a corpus luteum; and if not, the egg is swept aside by the fimbria which is like a finger that projects from the fallopian tube.
Ovulation time is your best time of the month – how do you feel during SUMMER? Yes, those four days are your golden days each month, so you should make sure to use them wisely!
The combination of high estrogen and testosterone levels can lead to good mood and an active libido (3) – As this is the right time to conceive, it makes sense, right?
This phase usually takes 3 to 4 days.
The corpus luteum is a mass of cells that helps produce the hormone progesterone during early pregnancy. The corpus luteum will continue to produce progesterone until the fetus produces adequate levels to sustain the pregnancy, which usually occurs between the 7th and 9th weeks of pregnancy.
If pregnancy doesn’t occur, the egg disintegrates in six to 24 hours. After that, progesterone stops the release of more eggs. So a woman can’t release an egg, get pregnant and release another egg months later to get pregnant again.
This phase can be considered your AUTUMN as your body is preparing for menstruation and your energy level could be going down, and you may be feeling more emotional or moody (4)
This phase usually takes 10 to 16 days depending on each woman’s body and circumstances.
After the end of the Luteal Phase the progesterone levels lower, triggering the disintegration of the endometrial wall, which results in the beginning of your next period.
How do you feel during WINTER time? Is this similar to the feelings you experience during your menstrual cycle?
PMS should be mild and something you can control each month. If you ever feel that your period is preventing you from having a normal life, it could be a sign that something else is going on. Find out more about that here.
Hopefully this information gives you a clearer idea about what you experience during each week of your cycle. To get additional information, visit my Instagram account and look out for the second part of this article series – Reconnecting with your cycle.
If you want to get deep into this topic, I strongly recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Dr. Toni Wescheler.