THE FOUR MENSTRUAL PHASES

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Did you know that almost half of all women don't know what's going on in their bodies every month? HALF... That is absolute madness! Every single month our bodies go through this incredibly complex process and 50% of us don't have any idea that this process even really exists nor do we even seem to be the slightest bit curious. 

I get it, our menstrual cycle is stereotyped HEAVILY - cramps, cravings, mood swings, tampons - our "time of the month" has been turned into a total joke. But it is far from a joke, our bodies are actually doing incredible things to make this seemingly uncomfortable time that we all love to hate happen and it's time to talk about it. 

Understanding your menstrual cycle is the key to you living your best life so let's unlock that sh*t and start actually thriving instead of curling up in a ball and eating chocolate for a week straight.

As John Mayer would say "your body is a wonderland" and I think it's about time we explore it.

*Days are an estimate for the average 28 day cycle*

THE MENSTRUAL PHASE (Days 1-7)

This phase doesn't really need an explanation, it's commonly referred to as; your period, monthly guest, aunt flow, the dot, that time of the month or shark week (if you're feeling a little annoyed or insensitive about the situation)

The menstrual phase is the elimination of the thickened lining of the uterus - also known as the endometrium. The menstrual fluid contains blood, cells from the lining of the uterus and mucus. (woohoo)

We typically tend to feel a little bit run down, tired and sluggish during this phase. That is because our main menstrual hormones - estrogen and progesterone - are at their lowest level during menstruation.

WHAT TO DO DURING THIS PHASE:

  • Do not exercise vigorously - try something like yoga, walking, etc.
  • Take it easy - your body is at it's lowest point energy wise so don't do anything crazy. 
  • Do something nice for yourself - get a massage, take a bath, etc.

The Menstrual Phase usually lasts anywhere from 3-7 days.

THE FOLLICULAR PHASE (Days 1-13)

The follicular phase actually starts on the first day of menstruation (and ends with ovulation). It starts off with our pituitary gland releasing follicle stimulating hormone - also known as FSH. FSH stimulates the ovary to produce tiny follicles, each follicle contains an immature egg. Only one egg actually matures and the rest of them die off (around day 10) the follicles then stimulate the uterus lining to start to thicken again to prepare for possible pregnancy.

Your energy is finally building back up and your mentality becomes clear and focused during this phase.

WHAT TO DO DURING THIS PHASE:

  • Try something new - you naturally have more energy so take advantage of it.
  • Learn - you are more alert and focussed during this phase.
  • Set goals - you are extra optimistic during this phase.

The Follicular phase lasts until ovulation so roughly 13-14 days.

THE OVULATION PHASE (Days 14-16)

This phase starts when the follicle with the mature egg ruptures and the egg is released in the hopes of meeting a sperm. The release causes a rise in estrogen which causes the pituitary gland to start producing the Luteal Hormone - also known as LH - as well as FSH and testosterone. Ovulation is triggered by the high levels of LH which causes the egg to be fully released, it is then funnelled into the fallopian tube towards the uterus.

The rise in hormones leaves you feeling energized, confident and ready to take on the world through this phase!

WHAT TO DO DURING THIS PHASE:

  • Workout - all of your new found energy is perfect to channel towards trying a new workout or getting your butt kicked in your favourite class.
  • Do something social - you are confident and your skin is clear and glowing during this phase.
  • Romance & Pleasure - your libido is higher during this phase.

 Ovulation generally occurs mid cycle and lasts for 1-2 days.

THE LUTEAL PHASE (Days 16-22)

Okay so remember how the follicle had to burst open to release the egg? Well the ruptured follicle stays on the surface of the ovary for the next two weeks or so and transforms into a structure known as the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum starts releasing progesterone and estrogen which start to thicken the lining of the uterus in hopes of a the egg becoming fertilized and implanting in the wall to begin pregnancy.  When there is no fertilized egg to be found the corpus luteum starts to shrivel up and die and our hormone levels start to drop again and that is when we may start to experience PMS symptoms and menstruation and then the cycle starts all over again (woohoo).

WHAT TO DO DURING THIS PHASE:

  • Light to moderate exercise - your energy levels are dropping off during this phase.
  • Organize & Declutter your life - you are calm and relaxed during this phase. 
  • Self care - prep yourself for your menstrual phase. 

The Luteal Phase starts after Ovulation and lasts until Menstruation so roughly 8 days.

Our bodies are quite literally doing a million different things every month to make our cycles happen and so many of us have no idea of the process that is going on inside of us. There are actually different levels of activity and different types of food and nutrients that our body needs during the different phases of our cycles as well, that is why it's so important to educate yourself on your body and what is needs to function optimally. I'm currently writing another post on exactly how to eat during your phases to promote the best cycle possible for yourself so stay tuned for that!

As always, everyone's cycles, regularity and durations will be different depending on health, diet, sexual activity, etc so as I said at the beginning of this post - all of these days are just the average for a normal cycle.

xo -LU