Hey Luna Lovers,
Welcome to November! Thanks for being a part of the journey this year with us.
This month we are focusing on the stages of your cycle. In the following article we take you through the 4 phases of your cycle, what to expect and how to combat symptoms – along with some fun tips from the Luna team.
Let’s jump right in shall we!
So, you want to know more about the stages of your cycle? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that your menstrual cycle lasts on average for 28 days, and begins on the first day of your period. Your menstrual cycle moves through 2 main phases – The Follicular and the Luteal phase. From there these two groups are broken down into 4 subgroups, Menstruation, Ovulation, Follicular and Luteal. The length of each phase can vary and change over time.
Days 1 – 5: Menstrual Phase
This is the first phase of your menstrual cycle and is also when you get your period. This phase begins when an egg from your previous cycle isn’t fertilised. Because of this your hormone levels drop and cause you to shed the thickened lining of your uterus, which would ordinarily be used to protect the fertilised egg. During this time your body sheds a combination of mucus, blood and tissue from your uterus through your vagina, which you guessed it – is your period!
Signs and symptoms of Menstruation:
Aside from the obvious blood, you can expect cramps, tender breasts, bloating, mood swings, irritability, headaches, fatigue and lower back pain (fun times.)
It’s important to note that light cramping is normal, but shouldn’t in anyway stop you from doing everyday activities. If you are experiencing severe or debilitating cramps then we suggest booking in to see your regular GP or Gynaecologist, as it could mean you are suffering from Endometriosis, PCOS or another Gynaecological condition.
Things to do:
Your period is the perfect time to practice self-care. Whether it’s a trip to the spa or a long soak in the tub, use this time to focus on you.
Days 6 – 11: Follicular Phase
So, your periods ended and your estrogen levels are on the rise. This rise is hormones signals your uterine lining to start growing again in preparation to release an egg, also known as ovulation.
Signs and symptoms of Follicular:
You might notice higher energy levels, glowing skin and an increase in your sex drive. It’s normal to feel more upbeat and energised during this phase, so it’s a great time to get out there and socialise with friends – you’re at the top of your game so make the most of it!
Things to do:
Try that new Pilates class, schedule that date you’ve been putting off, or meet up with friends for coffee! You’ll be feeling your best so it’s time to show it off!
Days 12 – 16 : Ovulation Phase
During the follicular phase (which we know is made up of your menstrual and ovulation phase) your estrogen levels rise. This triggers your pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormones which starts the process of ovulation.
Ovulation is the time at which you are most fertile, meaning your more likely to get pregnant. This is because your ovary releases a mature egg, which then travels down the fallopian tube and towards the uterus in preparation to be fertilised by sperm. So, if you’re planning on getting frisky during this time and aren’t trying to conceive it’s extra important to use protection. Using a combination of birth control and contraception like condoms can help prevent unwanted pregnancy and STIS. It’s important to note that contraception is incredibly important during your entire cycle, not just when you’re ovulating. Contraception is a right, not a luxury, so if someone makes you feel bad for wanting to use protection, they’re probably not the right sexual partner for you. Whilst ovulation only actually lasts for a 12 – 24 hour window, its symptoms can be felt for around 6 days.
Signs and symptoms of Ovulation:
Sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’re ovulating, but using an app to track your cycle can really help you understand more about your cycle. You can expect symptoms like a rise in body temperature, thicker vaginal discharge and the occasional cramp – but nothing major. Estrogen levels have also reached their peak, during this time meaning you can expect changes in your appetite and for your sex drive to make a full return.
Things to do:
Ovulation will likely leave you feeling more confident than usual, so that new outfit you’ve been waiting to wear – now’s the time! Strap on your dancing shoes, call the girls and get ready for a night out on the town.
Days 17 – 28 : Luteal Phase
You know those mornings where you wake up and you feel like your entire face has changed overnight? You might feel puffy and bloated – well, that’s because you’ve entered your Luteal Phase.
After the follicle releases its egg, it turns into corpus luteum. Corpus luteums’ primary job is to pump out progesterone which ensures a viable pregnancy. If a fertilised egg doesn’t implant itself in the endometrium, then pregnancy doesn’t occur, which causes the corpus luteum to shrink away and hormone levels to drop. Which you guessed it, triggers your period and we’re back at the beginning of your cycle.
Signs and symptoms of Luteal Phase:
Your luteal phase is the primary phase where you will likely feel PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) symptoms. You can expect bloating, mood swings, skin changes, headaches, food cravings and a decrease in sexual desire.
Things to do:
Cook up a batch of dark chocolate chip cookies and indulge! The added magnesium and iron will help boost your energy levels during this time, plus cookies are always a good idea when you’re feeling low.
Now that you know more about the stages of your cycle, we recommend using an app like Flo to track your cycle from start to finish. Using a cycle tracker is a great way to log your symptoms and learn more about what to expect throughout your phases. It’s also super handy when it comes to noting symptoms that might be out of the ordinary and allows you to download your full cycle report to take your GP or Gynaecologist the next time you visit.
For more information on your cycle and its phases we recommend chatting with your health care professional. The team at Love Luna are not Doctors, and the information in this blog should be used for educational purposes only. Everyone’s cycle is different, and only you know your flow, so if you’re concerned about something it’s best to follow up with your GP to ensure everything is working as it should.