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19
Mar 2021

Learning Your Menstrual Cycle 

  • By: Samantha Denäe

Your menstrual cycle is a cycle that most people believe is your monthly period, but in actuality your monthly period is apart of your menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle is a monthly hormonal cycle that prepares the female body for pregnancy and consists of four phases: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. The length of a menstrual cycle varies upon each person and can fluctuate throughout your life, but they usually last between 24-35 days. The way you count your menstrual cycle is from the first day of your period to the day before your next period is set to begin. For instance, if my period began March 4 and is set to begin again on April 2, my menstrual cycle is 30 days. Let’s dive into the phases of your menstrual cycle. 

  • Phase One: Menstruation AKA your period, which is the shedding of old blood and tissue from the uterine lining through the vagina.
  • Phase Two: The Follicular Phase, which is from the beginning of your period until the body reaches ovulation. The ovaries are at play during this phase as the pituitary gland begins to produce FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), signaling the ovaries to prepare for an egg release or ovulation. During this phase, the body also goes through the “proliferative phase”, the timeframe from the ending of your period until ovulation. This is when the uterus begins to rebuild the thick endometrium lining that was just shed during the previous period. At this time, the ovaries are creating egg-containing follicles while the uterus is reacting to estrogen that is being produced by the follicles, thus creating a place to house and grow a potential fertilized egg. 
  • Phase Three: Midway through the menstrual cycle we reach ovulation, when the egg is released from the ovary and into the fallopian tube. During the ovulation phase, the ovarian cycle is spilt between the follicular phase (phase two) and the luteal phase (phase four). Whichever the dominant follicle is, it will produce more estrogen while growing, and when the estrogen levels are where they need to be, they then signal to the brain to increase the luteinizing hormone (LH), which will cause ovulation. Typically, phase three comes 13-15 days before your next period. 
  • Phase Four: The Luteal Phase is the time period from ovulation until the beginning of your next period and is when the fluid filled sac that contained the egg produces estrogen and progesterone through corpus luteum. It is during this time that common PMS symptoms begin to appear like mood swings, tender breasts, headaches and more if you do not become pregnant. This causes a drop in estrogen and progesterone levels sparking menstruation (phase one). However, if an egg becomes fertilized then the progesterone produced through the corpus luteum will support early pregnancy, called the “secretory phase”. 

Learning your menstrual cycle is very important to womb health and management. It is also important to know in order to keep up with your body in case you have any issues. If it’s hard to keep track, try a period tracking app. 

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