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The Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

The Four Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

Some of us aren't aware of the amazing transformations our bodies go through on a monthly basis.

While you can tell certain things through mood changes, there's a lot more to our monthly cycle that it's good to get a better understanding of.

This cycle, often simply associated with a woman's period, is a complex and beautiful process that prepares the body for potential pregnancy. Let's delve into the four distinct phases of the menstrual cycle and understand the magic behind each one.

1. Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)

What Happens: This phase begins on the first day of menstruation (when bleeding starts) and lasts until the end of the bleeding. The thickened lining of the uterus, which was prepared to nurture a fertilised egg, sheds because no fertilisation occurred. This shedding is what we commonly refer to as a 'period'.

Key Hormones: Estrogen and progesterone levels are low.

Symptoms: Women may experience cramps, bloating, mood swings, and fatigue. It's essential to listen to your body during this phase and allow yourself the rest and care you need.

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2. Follicular Phase (Days 1-13)

What Happens: This phase overlaps with the menstrual phase. It begins on the first day of the menstrual cycle and ends with ovulation. The primary event is the maturation of the eggs in the ovaries, inside structures called follicles.

Key Hormones: The pituitary gland releases Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which stimulates the growth of follicles. As the follicles mature, they produce estrogen, leading to a surge in its levels.

Symptoms: As estrogen levels rise, many women often feel more energetic, sociable, and mentally alert.

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3. Ovulation Phase (Day 14)

What Happens: Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from an ovary. This egg travels down the fallopian tube, where it awaits potential fertilisation by a sperm.

Key Hormones: The surge in estrogen from the follicular phase triggers the pituitary gland to release Luteinizing Hormone (LH). This LH surge causes the most mature follicle to burst and release an egg.

Symptoms: Some women experience mild pain or a sensation on one side of the lower abdomen (mittelschmerz). Libido may also increase during this phase.

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4. Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)

What Happens: Post ovulation, the ruptured follicle transforms into a structure called the corpus luteum. This phase lasts until menstruation begins, marking the start of a new cycle.

Key Hormones: The corpus luteum produces progesterone, which prepares the uterus for a potential implantation of a fertilized egg. If no fertilization occurs, the corpus luteum degenerates, leading to a drop in progesterone and estrogen.

Symptoms: The decline in hormones can cause premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, fatigue, and bloating.

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Understanding the menstrual cycle is crucial, not just for those who experience it but for everyone. It's a testament to the incredible adaptability and resilience of the female body. By being in tune with these phases, women can harness their energy, mood, and overall well-being more effectively.

Remember, every woman's experience with her cycle is unique, and what's most important is to listen to and care for your body throughout each phase.

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