Understanding the four phases of your menstrual cycle is a foundational first step when it comes to creating healthy hormones and magickal af fertility. So today I am taking you back to biology class.
That’s right…welcome to reproductive health 101 sistahs; class is now in session!
Whether you are just beginning your holistic fertility journey, or you’ve been at it for a while, the first step is to gain an intimate understanding of your menstrual cycle. And if you are thinking your menstrual cycle is just your period…guess again!
Although that time of month tends to get all the attention, it is only 1 of 4 phases in your reproductive cycle. It’s important to learn about what is happening in the body during each phase so you can successfully track your ovulation every month. This will help you decide when you are most fertile to either avoid an unwanted pregnancy, or finally conceive your rainbow baby. By the end of this post, you will learn the basics of each phase.
Ready to begin? Here we go!
Phase 1: Your Menstrual Phase
The first day of your cycle begins with the first day of your period. This phase typically lasts for 3-7 days. During your menstrual phase, your progesterone and estrogen levels will decrease to the lowest they’ll be all month. This causes your uterine lining to begin breaking down and shedding, creating the process of menstruation. Most women will bleed or menstruate for an average of 5 days, with the first 2 days being the heaviest. You cannot become pregnant during your menstrual phase.
Phase 2: Your Follicular Phase
The follicular phase begins after the last day of your menstrual cycle and lasts for 7-10 days. The purpose of this phase is to prepare your body for ovulation. It is called the follicular phase because during this time your pituitary gland begins producing a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). FSH stimulates the follicles in your ovaries to develop and mature. Over the course of your follicular phase, one follicle will become dominant over the others, forming a fully mature egg. This egg will be released from the ovaries at the end of this phase, leading to ovulation, the next phase in your cycle. Estrogen levels also start to increase during your follicular phase as your uterine lining begins to thicken. These high estrogen levels lead to the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), which increases your sex drive right before your most fertile time of the month.
Phase 3: Ovulation
The shortest phase of your cycle, ovulation occurs right after the follicular phase and lasts about 2-3 days. During ovulation, the egg prepared during the follicular phase is released from the ovaries into the fallopian tube, where it will wait for fertilization to occur. This is the phase in your cycle where you can become pregnant. If there is no sperm present during ovulation, the egg is not fertilized and disintegrates, leading to the final stage of your cycle…the luteal phase.
Phase 4: Your Luteal Phase
The luteal phase takes place for 10-14 days after ovulation, and is the last phase in your cycle before menstruation begins again. During the luteal phase, FSH, and LH start to decrease, while progesterone and estrogen increase, preparing the body for pregnancy (IF fertilization has occurred!). This causes the lining of your uterus to thicken; if the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels will drop off, and you will have your period. When estrogen levels become too high during this phase, you can experience PMS symptoms such as cramping, headaches, mood swings, and fatigue.
Strong PMS symptoms can be a sign that you have a hormone imbalance.
Hormone issues can be caused by a multitude of things, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals found in pesticides, herbicides, cleaning products, personal care products, and even tap water. It is important to take care of your cycle by decreasing the amount of toxins you are exposed to in your daily life, and eating a nutritious diet. This will help you increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy in the future.
Tracking your cycle holistically is a great way to improve your hormone health as it will help clue you in on what is out of balance with your cycle. When I began learning more about the Fertility Awareness Method, I was FINALLY able to give up hormonal birth control, and take control of my fertility. I teach you how to track your cycle holistically in my free 3 Day Badass Challenge. During this challenge, you will learn different methods for tracking your fertility, why hormone testing is SO important and which tests you actually need, and how to join a Badass support system to help you along the way. Join us in the 3 Day Challenge HERE! I look forward to welcoming you aboard.
Peace and Fertility,
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