The Many Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle
Written by Cinestie Olson
Us menstruators know that our period is inevitable every month, and it usually comes with a never ending list of symptoms. However, did you know that the entire menstrual cycle is so much more than just the few days on your period? An entire menstrual cycle can be from 21-40 days, not the stereotypical 7 days we hear. The global average is around 28 days, with four different phases! Keep reading to learn more about each phase, how phases affect your body, and tips for yourself during each of these phases!
The phase we all know and love. The menstruation phase ranges from 4-10 days. During this phase, we’ll bleed, cramp, crave, and overall have lower energy. Our hormones are at our lowest at the beginning of this phase (which is why we get so fatigued during our period), and our uterine lining starts to shed.
During this phase, self-care is important! Make sure you are using a period product you’re comfortable using, wearing clothes that aren’t uncomfortable, and get lots of rest.
Foods to eat while in the menstruation phase should provide nutrients, warmth, and comfort! Chamomile or red raspberry leaf tea are great for relaxation and relieving cramps. Eating lean proteins and healthy fats are key to nurturing your body during menstruation. Some of our favorites are sweet potatoes, avocados, probiotic yogurt, chicken, and nuts!
Since your body is in a more sensitive state, light exercise would be best! This can include going on a nature walk or doing some yoga! Your body is going through incredible (and maybe painful) stages during your period, and you don’t want to over-exert yourself.
In the follicular phase, you may start to feel more energized! During this time, your ovaries will prepare to release eggs. Though many are released, only one egg will actually mature! As the egg is maturing, estrogen levels will rise that thickens the lining of your uterus.
Libido levels may be lower, so doing something that makes you feel confident is key. Take a dance class, have an impromptu photoshoot, or explore a new sex toy that you’ve been wanting to try!
Since your energy levels are rising, you might want to eat more fresh and light foods. Foods like broccoli, salads, fruits, flaxseeds, and salmon can support your energy!
You may have more energy, but your hormones are still lower during the follicular phase. Exercise that includes light cardio is best during this time due to lower stamina! Outdoor runs, easier hikes, and swimming are great options.
It’s baby-making time (or it’s absolutely not)! Your estrogen levels are on the rise, and a mature egg will travel down the fallopian tubes into your uterus. Your ovulation phase is the only time you are fertile, and you might notice an increase in vaginal discharge! You also might notice that your energy levels, confidence, and libido are at their highest during this time too.
Since your energy is at its highest, it’s time for a dance party with friends! Take this time to socialize, plan a fun night out, and do those tasks at home you’ve been ignoring (like that pile of laundry sitting in the corner of your room).
Since estrogen levels are high during this time you may notice more tenderness in breasts and other parts of your body. Eating foods like whole fruit and green veggies can support your liver to balance your estrogen!
You can take this time to do more difficult exercises since your body has more stamina and energy. Try kickboxing, crossfit, or strength training!
For those who didn’t get pregnant during the ovulation phase, you may feel more emotionally down, bloated, food cravings, and trouble sleeping. This is due to our hormones being at its highest, and our body is preparing for another period cycle.
Since your hormones are surging, you may feel fatigue and mood swings. Take this time to eat foods that produce serotonin and magnesium like leafy greens, quinoa, dark chocolate, and pumpkin seeds!
Your energy levels might be lowering again, so take this time to do light to moderate exercise! This can include cycling or trying out that new pilates studio down the street.