What do the Menstrual Cycle Phases do to me?
Find out how you can actively use menstrual cycle phases for your own benefit and why a fluctuating cycle length is not so rare and worrying.
Your cycle influences you and you influence your cycle: Maybe you know it, during your period you are exhausted and need a lot of rest. Only a short time later you feel much better and are thriving again. If you are under a lot of stress, your hormone levels can get out of balance and your cycle is suddenly longer or shorter than normal. But what exactly happens in your body during your cycle? We’ll explain.
What are the Phases of the Menstrual cycle?
Within the menstrual cycle, many different processes take place in your body that also affect your energy level and state of mind. Therefore, you should listen carefully to your body during the individual phases. What signals does your body give you and how should you react to them?
The Menstrual phase
The female cycle begins with the menstrual phase. The first day of the cycle is also the first day of menstruation. A menstrual phase usually lasts about 3 to 5 days. Due to the contraction of the uterus, the functional layer of the uterine lining is gradually shed. The shed mucous membrane is then excreted as a period.
Due to the contraction of the uterus, many women experience mild cramps or pain in the lower abdomen. If the pain is more severe on a regular basis, you should talk to your gynaecologist. During your period, many women notice a general feeling of discomfort and feel less productive and sluggish than usual. This may be due to your symptoms, such as PMS, or to your hormone levels, which tend to be low during menstruation.
During your period, you should listen especially carefully to your body and give yourself enough rest to reflect. Plenty of rest and sleep are important now, as this is when regeneration processes take place in your body. For this reason, you should not overtax your body with too strenuous sports, but rather go for a walk or practise relaxed yoga sessions. If you can, you should also reduce your workload during this time.
The Follicular phase
The follicular phase is the period between the end of your period and ovulation. After your period, your oestrogen and progesterone levels are very low. This is why the follicle-stimulating hormone FSH is produced. It makes the lining of the uterus thicker to prepare for implantation of the fertilised egg. In addition, FSH causes the follicle and the egg it contains to mature in the ovary.
During this phase, some women who are sensitive to hormone fluctuations tend to have migraines. Some, on the other hand, notice that they have fuller breasts, clearer skin and higher self-esteem during this time. In addition, most women experience an increased libido, which means you have a higher sexual desire in the days around your ovulation.
The follicular phase can also be called the growth phase. You are likely to have a lot of energy during this phase. You should use this energy for rational decisions, lots of sport and new projects. During this phase of the cycle, you are easily motivated and can focus on your daily tasks.
At the end of the follicular phase, an egg has matured and can be released. When the hormonal balance is just right, an egg is released for fertilisation. Your ovulation takes place between the 12th and 14th day of the cycle. Once the follicle has burst and released the egg, the egg travels down the fallopian tube for about 24 hours. To become pregnant, the egg must be fertilised within these 24 hours, otherwise it dies.
When ovulation occurs, the cervix opens, and the cervical mucus liquefies. This makes it easier for sperm to pass through the cervix and the uterine cavity into the fallopian tube. The sperm survive there for up to five days. In addition, your body temperature rises a little, because in a warmer environment the sperm keep better, and pregnancy becomes more likely.
On the day you ovulate, you’re likely to be particularly prepared to take risks. It’s the perfect day for difficult conversations, like salary negotiations or job interviews. Similarly, ovulation is a good time for productivity, fun and exercise. Especially if you want to have a baby, you should pursue your sex drive in the days around ovulation.
The Luteal phase
The luteal phase begins when the egg is released. This phase is also called the corpus luteum phase because the egg leaves behind its shell, the corpus luteum, which begins to produce progesterone with the help of the hormone LH to mature the lining of the uterus. The lining is then remodelled so that it is ready to receive a fertilised egg.
In your uterine lining, the formation of blood vessels is increased to increase blood flow. Mucous membranes and supportive tissue structures are also formed to create a perfect environment for the fertilised egg. From about the 21st day of the cycle, less progesterone is slowly produced because no egg has been able to implant. The progesterone and oestrogen levels are so low that the lining of the uterus breaks down. This starts the bleeding, and the next menstrual cycle begins.
In the last phase, many women struggle with PMS and hormonally induced acne. In addition, you will have a higher metabolic rate, which will cause you to feel more appetite. Take time during the luteal phase to do routine tasks or finish projects you have started. You can also use this phase of your cycle to reflect and get rid of old habits.
The Length of your Cycle
Irregular cycles happen to many women and are nothing to worry about. Often a hormonal imbalance is the cause of shortened or prolonged cycles. Hormonal fluctuations are not a cause for concern, especially during puberty or the menopause. However, if you notice changes in your cycle over a longer period of time, you should talk to your gynaecologist.
There are several reasons that can lead to changes in your cycle. For one thing, illnesses can affect the length of your cycle, for example:
Chronic inflammation of the fallopian tubes or ovaries.
Benign ovarian cysts (PCO syndrome)
Malignant ovarian tumours (usually appear after the menopause)
Other conditions can cause hormone imbalances that affect how long your cycle is. Such conditions can include the following:
High or low blood sugar
Being underweight or anorexic
Hypofunction of the anterior pituitary gland.
However, a disease does not necessarily have to be the reason for an altered cycle. There are also other influencing factors that can change the length of the cycle. These factors vary from person to person. They can have an influence, for example:
Stopping hormonal contraceptives
Change of location
Change of climate
The female cycle lasts an average of 28 days. A normal cycle varies from woman to woman and is subject to fluctuations between about 26 and 32 days. During this time, you can expect to lose about 60 millilitres of blood. If you experience long-term cycle irregularities, you should see a gynaecologist.
A cycle that lasts less than 25 days is called a shortened cycle. It often occurs in young girls or in women before the menopause. The cause is often a hormonal imbalance. In many cases, the luteal phase is shorter in shortened cycles than in a normal cycle. In addition, a cycle that is too short can be an indication that ovulation has not taken place. A shortened cycle does not necessarily need to be treated, but it should still be clarified.
A long cycle can last between 35 and 45 days. If your cycle is regularly longer than 45 days, you should see a doctor. The reason for a missed period is rarely a medical condition. In most cases, a prolonged cycle is caused by stress. However, medication or stopping contraceptives can also be a reason for a prolonged cycle. To bring the female cycle back into balance, the underlying condition must be treated.
Bleeding between Cycles
Bleeding outside the menstrual cycle is called intermenstrual bleeding. Most of them are one-off and pass after a few hours. However, the bleeding can last for several days. Intermenstrual bleeding can occur immediately after ovulation and is often hormonal. Rarely, it is caused by contraceptives like the IUD or the pill. You should check with your gynaecologist and change your contraceptive if necessary. Heavy bleeding is often caused organically and should definitely be checked out by a specialist.
If there are no organic or hormonal causes, the use of medicinal plants can be useful. Medicinal plants such as St. John’s wort, pomegranate, black cumin and hemp also help with other cycle-related complaints.
Laia’s FemBalance combines the effects of traditional gynaecology. During menstruation, for example, a gentle massage of the lower abdomen with our menstrual belly oil helps to relieve the discomfort. Try the gentle oil in your next cycle and convince yourself of its warming effect!
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