In this post I want to give a short summary of the phases of your menstrual cycle. As I shared in my previous post, why understanding the menstrual stages is important, this is useful information not only for women who are preparing for pregnancy but for any woman who wants to feel more connected to her female body and learn how to take care of herself during these monthly shifts.
Phases of the menstrual cycle
There are four phases of your hormonal cycle:
The follicular phase is the time after you finish your period when Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) causes egg follicles to start maturing in your ovaries ready for the next cycle. Estrogen also increases gradually during this phase to build up the lining of your womb.
During the ovulatory phase, a surge in Liutenising Hormone (LH) causes a mature egg to be released from one of your ovaries and start to make it’s way towards your womb. You are the most fertile at this point and peaks in estrogen and testosterone lead to changes in your body to increase the chance of conception.
Also known as the pre-menstrual phase or simply the pre-menstruum, the luteal phase is the period of time after ovulation when the body prepares for a potential pregnancy. Progesterone is released to maintain the lining of your womb and prepare it to accept a fertilised egg.
If you don’t get pregnant, your production of progesterone rapidly declines leading to the shedding of the womb lining, aka your monthly bleed. This can be accompanied by cramping as the muscles of your womb contract to help the shedding process. On average women lose 6-8 teaspoons of blood during each menstrual period!
Changes in your body in the phases of the menstrual cycle
The changing hormones in each phase lead to a different state of your physical, emotional and mental bodies. Once we start to live with mindful awareness of our cycles, we start to pick up on these subtle changes and become conscious of when we are shifting from one phase to the next. The amount of time spent in each phase and the experience you have will depend on your genetics and lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, sleep and stress levels. No two women are the same but I will give an example of a menstrual cycle below including how each phase might feel when your hormones are in balance or when there is an imbalance present.
|PHASE||LENGTH||WHEN IN BALANCE||WHEN OUT OF BALANCE|
|Follicular||7-10||Rising energy, more extroverted, creative, open minded||Fatigue, anxiety|
|Ovulatory||3-4||High energy, extroverted, social, confident, high libido||Stress, anxiety, overwhelm, low libido, pain|
|Luteal||10-14||Decreasing energy, introverted, more critical, increased sensitivity||Exhaustion, irritable, mood swings, intense cravings, extreme self-criticism, depression|
|Menstrual||3-7||Low energy, introverted, peaceful, intuitive||Exhaustion, intense pain, depression|
This is just example to help you start to become aware of the shifts that can occur throughout a monthly menstrual cycle and some signs of imbalance to watch out for. However, I can’t stress enough the importance of tracking your own cycle to see what your own patterns are. See my post here for how to start tracking your menstrual cycle and how you can use this information to sync your lifestyle with your cycle.
Menstrual cycle and the lunar phases
Ancient legends describe how women’s monthly cycles once were in sync with the cycles of the moon. Perhaps, it’s no coincidence that our menstrual cycles are approximately the same length as a lunar cycle? Just like the tides are governed by the gravitational pull of the moon, it is possible that the tides of our womb are also affected by these forces. It is believed that historically, most women would be at their most fertile during the bright full moon days and would bleed during the dark moon or new moon which was seen as a time of deeper intuition and spiritual connection. A beautiful book which captures this image is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.
Of course, these days we are mostly living in cities with artificial lights, completely out of touch with nature and the cycles of the moon. Research shows no connection between women’s cycles and the moon cycles in the present day. However, I still think it is a beautiful metaphor for our monthly shifts from bright and bold to more reserved and mystical. I like to believe there is some truth in this connection between our feminine rhythms and the lunar cycles. For me personally, once I started to pay attention to the moon phases and consciously see the moon at least a moon times a week, my cycle did start to sync with it’s phases and has done for the last 12 months. I hope that more research is done in this areas as it truly is fascinating and this was the inspiration for my business name Moon Life!
Over to you…
Let me know in the comments below how you feel about your menstrual cycle, do you feel connected to it or is it something that you wish you could forget? Like and share this post to support my business and follow my blog for more on menstrual cycle awareness, yoga and holistic health.
If you are interested in learning how to connect with your cycle, you can enroll in my health coaching program Prepare for Pregnancy where I will teach you how to nourish your body using nutrition, intuitive movement, stress management and menstrual cycle awareness. I would love to work with you to help you connect with your feminine rhythms and restore your natural health and vitality.