Menstrual phases - Do you know your cycle?
Menstruators have approximately 450 menstrual cycles in their lifetime, and there is a reason it is called a CYCLE, it repeats itself over and over again.
It might not be fun at the beginning, but the more you get to know your Period, the more you know your power. Understanding your body gives you the freedom of choice and a perspective on every level of your being.
The most important part is to have as much information about it and understand how YOUR personal cycle works, and we are here to help! First of all we will look at the phases of your cycle from two perspectives - what is happening in your Uterus and what is happening in your Ovaries.
Follicular phase: it takes place in the Ovaries and goes from day 1 of your period to ovulation. Estrogen rises as an egg prepares to be released. A little bird in your brain - also known as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) - says to your ovaries: “heads up, we are releasing an egg”.
About halfway through this phase (just as the bleeding is ending) one follicle on one of the ovaries is the bigger - 1 cm (0.4 in). This one becomes the dominant follicle and is the one prepared to be released at ovulation. This little champ produces estrogen as it grows, which peaks just before the egg is released.
Meanwhile, in your Uterus, The Menstruation"AKA your period /bleeding is happening. In this phase the old blood and tissue from inside the uterus is being expelled through the vagina. During this period the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body are low. Think about it as the “monthly” deep clean of the little room inside you.
Once your period is over, The proliferative phase starts and lasts until ovulation. On one side, the ovaries are working hard developing egg-containing follicles and on the other the uterus is starting it’s new decoration, which means responding to the estrogen produced by follicles and rebuilding the lining that was just expelled to your panties. This phase gets its name because the endometrium (lining of the uterus) becomes thicker. Little side fact about the endometrium: It is the thinnest during the menstruation and it gets thicker throughout the proliferative phase until ovulation. This is the uterus way to create a nice little environment to potentially be a home to implant and grow in case of a fertilized egg.
THE OVULATION: RELEASE THE EGG! One single egg is released from the Ovary into the fallopian tube, each month from one side (alternating left and right).
Remember the dominant follicle from the follicular phase? It keeps growing and produces more and more estrogen as it grows larger, reaching about 2 cm (0.8 in) — up to 3 cm at its largest, right before ovulation. When estrogen levels are high enough, they signal to the brain causing a dramatic increase in luteinizing hormone (LH) which causes the egg release.
This is what happens in the second half of your cycle. The insufferable phase where, for many women, PMS happens (luckly not for everyone though).
At this moment, The luteal phase starts in your Ovaries . It happens after the ovulation and lasts until the start of your period, when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. Right after ovulation, the follicle that contains the egg transforms into something called a corpus luteum (lovely word, isn’t it?) and starts to produce progesterone as well as estrogen. Progesterone peaks about halfway through the luteal phase.
These hormonal changes are associated with common premenstrual symptoms that 75% of people experience, such as mood changes, headaches, acne, bloating, and breast tenderness.
In case the egg is fertilized, progesterone from the corpus luteum will support the early pregnancy. If this does not occur, the corpus luteum starts to break down between 9 and 11 days after ovulation, which leads to a drop in estrogen and progesterone levels, resulting in the period.
In the meanwhile, your Uterus is going through The secretory phase. The endometrium prepares and produces chemicals that will either help support an early pregnancy or will prepare to break down and bleed. The phase gets its name from the secretion happening in the endometrium (producing and releasing) many types of chemical messengers. And here we go again…