Getting To Know Your Menstrual Cycle

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Did you know that your menstrual cycle has four different phases? In today’s post we’ll be outlining what is happening in each of these phases to help you understand what exactly is happening throughout all the phases of your cycle.  

An average menstrual cycle is 28-29 days, but this can vary up to 24-38 depending on the person. To figure out the length of your menstrual cycle, count the number of days between the first day of menstrual bleeding for one cycle, to when you experience the first day of bleeding of the next period. 

Phase 1: Menstruation 

The first phase of the menstrual cycle is menstruation. This is when you experience your period. Menstruation starts when the egg from the previous cycle is not fertilized. The thickened lining of the uterus, also known as the endometrium, exits through the body through the vagina.

A typical period lasts for 3-8 days, and during this time you may experience the following symptoms: 

  • cramps 
  • changes in your mood 
  • tender breasts 
  • bloating 
  • irritability 
  • lower back pain
  • headaches 
  • fatigue

Phase 2: The Follicular Phase 

The second phase of menstrual cycle is the follicular phase, and this begins at the exact same time as menstruation, and lasts about 10-16 days. Your body is pretty busy right about now! 

A region in your brain called the hypothalamus signals to your pituitary gland to start releasing something called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH prompts your ovaries to create several small sacs called follicles (which give this phase its name). Each follicle contains an immature egg, and the healthiest egg is the one that gets to make it to maturity while the rest are absorbed back into your body. As this egg matures, your body releases extra estrogen so that the uterine lining begins to thicken to prepare the necessary nutrients for a fertilized egg

You also get a small testerosterone bump during this time which can increase sex drive, which makes sense given this is the fertile time of your cycle!

Phase 3: The Ovulatory Phase 

The ovulatory phase typically takes place in the middle of your menstrual cycle. When it’s time to ovulate, your rising estrogen levels tell your pituitary gland to start releasing luteinizing hormone (LH), which stimulates the ovary to release to the mature egg. 

This mature egg makes its way down the fallopian tube into the uterus. Once the egg is released, the follicle seals over, which is called corpus luteum. 

During this time you might notice more thick, white discharge or clear sticky mucus and a slight increase in your basal body temperature. 

Phase 4: The Luteal Phase 

The final phase of the menstrual cycle is the luteal phase. The corpus luteum releases progesterone to keep the uterine wall thick preparing for fertilization.  

During the luteal phase lasts about 14 days and is when you might experience PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms which can include: 

  • bloating 
  • mood changes 
  • headaches 
  • pain, tenderness, or swelling of the breasts 
  • changes in sex drive 
  • weight gain 
  • difficulty sleeping 
  • food cravings

The egg survives for about 24 hours without being fertilized, and if not, the egg will dissolve, and both estrogen and progesterone levels will drop, which brings us back to where we started, the menstrual phase!

To find out more about how you can manage your cycle more naturally and help to fight symptoms of PMS, check out Funk It’s seed cycling can help you!  

What is a "normal" period? 

ft. Kinsey Olson, RN, BSN

In this episode, we talk about everything you need to know about a "normal" period and ways to work with your body to support your cycle throughout the entire month. Spoiler alert a normal period shouldn't knock you out for a few days!

Getting to know your Cycle 

with Dr.Cassandra Wilder ND