Menstrual Cycle Guide - Understanding What Your Body Goes Through Every Month
Posted: 18 March 2013
Menstrual cycle is essentially regulated by the changes in the endometrium or the lining of your uterus and is basically divided in the follicular, ovulatory and secretory phases.
The follicular (proliferative) phase begins at the end of the menstrual flow and lasts for 10 to 14 days. During this phase, the uterus lining thickens, the ovaries produce oestrogen and the ovarian follicles are stimulated until the eggs tripled in size.
Ovulation occurs at the end of this phase.
The ovulatory phase involves the release of the ovum (egg) into one of the fallopian tubes and this phase lasts for 36 hours only.
The luteal (secretory) phase is entered after ovulation has occurred. This phase takes up 14 days on average where hormones oestrogen and progesterone stimulate the lining of the uterus in preparation for implantation by a fertilized egg.
If fertilization doesn’t take place, the tissue which has been prepared will degenerate. As oestrogen and progesterone levels decrease, the tissue is shed during menstruation.
To understand your menstrual cycle better, please read on:
Day 1- 5 (Week 1)
Day 1: This is your first day of your period and your menstrual cycle.
The blood you lose is the shedding of the lining of your uterus along with the unfertilized egg. It may sometimes seem to be a lot of blood, but it is actually only a few teaspoons or approximately 90ml.
A few hours after your period starts, oestrogen level starts to climb and this will boost the feel-good brain neurotransmitter called serotonin. You’ll be emotionally more relaxed as opposed to the general emotional lethargy of the days before.
During the course of your period the colour of the blood may also change as the flow changes; from a bright red on heavier days to a darker brownish colour as your period finishes.
While you may feel tired during the first few days of your period due to a dip in hormones coupled with loss of iron from menstruation, by the middle of the week, rising hormones will increase your energy and endurance.
Day 7- 14 (Week 2)
After your period, the monthly cycle of 28 days continues.
As your period ends, you’ll feel more sociable as oestrogen and testosterone levels climb.
High oestrogen level makes you motivated, optimistic and more cheerful than the previous week. It also causes you to be more adventurous, flirtatious and impulsive compared to any other week of the menstrual cycle.
Energy-wise, you’ll feel a burst of energy as you’ll start doing everything faster due to the high hormone levels.
Day 15- 20 (Week 3)
In preparation for ovulation, your ovaries prepare to release another egg and the hormones oestrogen along with progesterone will stimulate the lining of your uterus to thicken.
When you ovulate, an egg is released from one of your ovaries and travels down your fallopian tube towards the uterus.
If it is fertilized, it becomes embedded in the lining of the uterus.
A woman can only become pregnant if fertilization happens and this occurs when a man’s sperm reaches the egg through sexual intercourse.
Day 21- 28 (Week 4)
Oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels continue to plummet. You may notice the pre-menstrual symptoms this causes such as bloating, mood swings and tender breasts.
If the egg is unfertilized, your body will know that it no longer needs the uterus lining.
As the production of oestrogen decreases, you’ll find that your mood swings from mellow to irritable within a short period of time. This is caused by the decreasing level of serotonin which is influenced by the plunging level of oestrogen.
Low oestrogen level also may cause migraines, aches and insomnia.
Your period will soon begin so that the uterus lining can be shed once again.
Watch a quick video to summarize the significant phases of your menstrual cycle here:
Watch Menstrual Cycle Video by Femina®
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