Understanding Your Cycle
What did your mom (or other influencers in your life) teach you about your period when you had your first one?
While every woman knows that she’s going to have periods, a lot of women don’t really understand what exactly is going on in their bodies during their monthly cycles.
One gal shared, “I just don’t have good body-awareness.”
If this is you, you’re not alone.
Here’s a bit of insight that perhaps your mom didn’t know to share with you.
There are four phases to your cycle (don’t worry, we’re going to keep this super simple):
Menstruation - the elimination of the thickened lining of the uterus when pregnancy does not occur. Menstrual fluid contains blood, cells from the lining of the uterus (endometrial cells) and mucus.
The Follicular phase - this begins with the first day of your period and continues until ovulation occurs (there’s some overlap of the ovulation and menstruation phases). This is when your pituitary gland releases follicle stimulating hormones so your ovaries can create follicles which contain eggs.
Ovulation - the release of an egg (the “fertile window” in your cycle).
Luteal phase - once the egg bursts from the follicle, this structure starts releasing progesterone, along with small amounts of estrogen. This combination of hormones maintains the thickened lining of the uterus, waiting for a fertilized egg to stick.
Each phase is dedicated to some aspect of creation - your body preparing itself for pregnancy, or transitioning when pregnancy doesn’t happen.
In many cultures, the menstrual cycle has been viewed as sacred. And did you know that your cycles are influenced by the cycles of the moon?
Now that we’ve covered science 101, let’s go a little deeper into other interesting things happening with your body during each phase.
Menstruation phase: This is a time to honor yourself, your space and your body. This is also a good time for clearing clutter, for reflection, rest and rejuvenation. All too often women ignore their natural rhythm and cycles and therefore are working against themselves. Instead of relaxing, slowing down, and creating space for themselves, women force themselves through the tasks and duties that are screaming for their attention. It’s in this phase that it’s ideal to follow more calming and meditative practices so your body can focus its energy on the natural processes happening within. You’ll also notice, as mentioned above, that if you’re paying attention, you may find yourself clearing out - drawers, closets, your desk. Just as your body is clearing out, your natural instinct may also be to clear out your physical space as well.
Follicular phase: Many women find they are at their peak creative expression during this phase; filled with new ideas. Our cycle represents creation - both for human life as well as other projects. During the last few days of this phase, I find that I can often accomplish twice as much work without much effort. This is when I ramp up external projects I’m working on and find that my multitasking is exponential.
Ovulation: Your core temperature rises almost a half degree after ovulation. The reason for this is that the level of progesterone hormone rises after an egg is released; progesterone raises the body temperature. We talked about this on Day ____ when we dove into the topic of sleep. Because this is when you’re more fertile in your menstrual cycle, this is also a good time to be more “fertile” and creative in other aspects of your life. Plus, you may find yourself more open and receptive to new ideas from others.
Luteal phase: After ovulation, the body is preparing for the potential of becoming pregnant. It’s often towards the latter part of this phase (and as you begin the menstrual phase and start to bleed) that you’ll notice a dip in your energy. This is a time to do routine tasks and not overload your schedule. Be kind and gentle to your body.
The best way to understand your cycle is to track your cycle.
Know that each womans’ experience is unique - your cycle is your cycle. It’s ideal to track each day for several months (we suggest 3-6 months) so you can begin to notice patterns and fluctuations that may be related to your cycle. Track the emotions you experience on any given day, and any physical changes occurring in any part of your body. Do this in the space below or use a period tracker app.
How does understanding your cycle help you have a Perfect Period?
Being aware and understanding your cycle, and the natural occurrences within your body during each phase of it gives you the opportunity to make different choices - and to create and manage your schedule, projects and life accordingly, so that these choices promote optimal health and flow. The more you can honor your cycle, the better experience you will have with your periods.
Click here to learn how Perfect Period.® can help you or someone you know create a happy healthy period.