We all know about PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and how it can affect how we feel leading up to our periods, but did you know that your cycle has four phases, and each phase can affect you differently?
In this blog post, we will discuss the phases of your cycle and how they can affect you. Let's start with the beginning of the menstrual cycle: your period.
When you are menstruating, or having your period, you are shedding a layer of your endometrium lining. This phase of your cycle can last anywhere between 3-7 days and during this phase, you may feel drained emotionally and physically.
If during your period you feel like you need to take a break and rest for a while, take the opportunity when you can. Listen to your body and you will be grateful for it. This is a great time to self-reflect and turn your focus inward.
Some common symptoms of menstruation are-
Emotional and short-tempered
The follicular phase in your cycle overlaps with menstruation and can last for 14-21 days. As you progress into the follicular phase, you will notice your energy levels rising and your mood lightening. During the follicular phase, your brain releases a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to begin producing a dominant follicle in your ovaries for an egg to mature. When this hormone is released, you may have a number of follicles begin to mature, but only one will become dominant and it will mature faster than the others.
Estrogen levels will begin to rise due to the maturing follicle and egg and FSH will decrease. The release of estrogen will help thicken the lining of your uterus where a fertilized egg can then implant itself. If you are trying to conceive, you should increase the frequency of sex (every other day is good) during the end of your follicular phase and leading into the ovulatory phase.
You may find that you feel more open to new things and creative during this phase, especially as you draw closer to the ovulatory phase. More symptoms or signs of the follicular phase are-
Rising basal body temperature
Energy levels rise
Sex drive increases
The ovulatory phase is the time when your egg reaches full maturity and is released from the ovaries, into the fallopian tubes, and travels down to the uterus where it can become fertilized or shed during your next period. This phase lasts around 3 to 4 days. If you are trying to avoid pregnancy, use a backup contraceptive during the later part of your follicular phase and while you are in the ovulatory phase. Keep an eye on your cervical mucus. As you become more fertile, your cervical mucus will become runny, stretchy, and you may notice an increase in the amount left in your underwear.
This stage is when estrogen levels peak and testosterone levels spike. If you go to the gym regularly, you may notice it is easier to lift heavy weights while ovulating due to the increase in testosterone. Your sex drive will be high and it’s common for women to feel extra beautiful, even when they don’t realize they are ovulating. The ovulation phase is when most women feel their best all around. More symptoms of this phase are-
More cervical mucus
Feeling like you’re on top of the world
May feel a shooting pain in one side of your lower belly
High sex drive
Joyful and playful
After ovulation, you begin the luteal phase which lasts for about 10-14 days. Estrogen and testosterone decrease along with energy levels while progesterone levels increase. As you get closer to your period, you may notice feeling more sluggish, short-fused, and become increasingly introverted until the follicular phase starts again. Common symptoms of the luteal phase are-
Feeling less beautiful
More food cravings
Now that you know how your cycle can affect you, you can begin to notice these symptoms and use this knowledge to your advantage. If you are trying to conceive, you can track your behaviors, emotions, and physical symptoms to learn when you are most likely to ovulate and get pregnant. For women who cannot or don’t want to be on birth control, you can use this information to prevent pregnancy by tracking symptoms.
This information can also be used for cycle syncing- adjusting your routines to become complimentary with your cycle rather than going against them. Such as doing less intense workouts during your luteal phase, having a rest period during your menstruation, and high-impact exercises during your follicular and ovulatory phase. Dietary changes throughout your cycle can also help boost your mood and alleviate period symptoms such as eating more magnesium-rich foods. One of the most common symptoms of the luteal phase is cravings, usually caused by low serotonin levels. Chicken, salmon, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and seeds can help boost serotonin levels and reduce cravings.
Ahh, the third trimester, starting at 28 weeks and ending with birth (usually between 40 and 42 weeks). The final trimester of pregnancy and the one that feels like the longest. The bliss and ease of the second trimester may soon be replaced by feelings of eagerness, nervousness, excitement, and restlessness.
Being able to relax during labor will allow your body to do all the hard work and bring your baby into the world with a peaceful environment. While you’re focusing on relaxing every part of your body and mind, you will have more energy for the marathon of birth, and it may allow your labor to progress quicker.