If you’re like me, you may not have known that we don’t just experience different seasons at different times of the year. Women actually experience each of the four seasons every month during their menstrual cycle. Now, I used to think that the term “menstrual cycle” was used solely when referring to the time of month we actually are menstruating. After much research (and it’s far from over), I have learned that a woman’s menstrual cycle refers to the whole month and it is broken down into four phases: Menstrual (Winter), Follicular (Spring), Ovulatory (Summer), and Luteal (Fall).
The menstrual phase is first phase of the menstrual cycle, and it is when a person is actually menstruating. This phase is triggered when estrogen and progesterone (hormones) levels are reduced, which is a result of an unfertilized egg from the previous cycle. It is also during this phase that the uterus lining sheds. On average, this phase lasts anywhere from 3 to 7 days.
The time between the first day of the period and ovulation is known as the follicular phase. During this time, the brain tells the ovaries to prepare to release an egg for fertilization. This happens when one follicle becomes dominate and produces estrogen. This phase ranges from roughly 10 to 22 days.
About halfway through the follicular phase begins the ovulatory phase. This is when rising estrogen levels trigger the pituitary gland and the luteinizing hormone is released. Essentially, during this phase, an egg is released from the ovary and travels through the fallopian tube. This is the only time during the menstrual cycle that a woman can get pregnant. Ovulation typically happens around day 14 of the menstrual cycle and lasts for roughly 24 hours.
The fourth and final phase of the menstrual cycle is known as the luteal phase. This phase begins at the time of ovulation and ends when the next period starts. Two things can happen in this phase depending on whether or not you get pregnant. If you do get pregnant, progesterone from the corpus luteum helps to keep the uterine lining thick. However, if pregnancy doesn’t occur, the corpus luteum is reabsorbed and progesterone and estrogen levels decrease again before the start of the next period. The luteal phase lasts an average of 11 to 17 days.
Having a good understanding of our feminine health is extremely important, in my opinion. Once we know how our bodies work, we can make lifestyle changes that will help us feel our healthiest. For years, I have suffered from acne, fatigue, digestive issues, and a slew of other symptoms. I believe that the root of my issues stem from a hormone imbalance, and understanding how my feminine health works could be the answer I’ve spent years looking for (more to come on this later). In the meantime, what are some symptoms that you suffer from and don’t know why? Do you think they stem from an imbalance in your hormones? Tell me in the comments below!