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Your Menstrual Cycle Phases Explained

Your Menstrual Cycle Phases Explained
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What is the menstrual cycle?

Think of the menstrual cycle as your body's very own monthly planner – a one-of-a-kind mix of hormones, mood swings, and bodily changes. It's a natural, repeating process that unfolds roughly every 28 days, although it’s important to remember that it can vary from person to person and last anywhere between 21-45 days. The whole cycle is orchestrated by interactions between hormones and involves several stages that ultimately prepare the body for the possibility of pregnancy. Here, we’ll be peeling back the layers and uncovering everything there is to know about the mesmerising stages of the menstrual cycle.

What are the phases of the menstrual cycle?

There are four stages of the menstrual cycle, each playing a pivotal role in a woman’s reproductive journey. Let’s go beyond the biological basics and explore how you might be feeling at each moment in time…

Menstruation (1-5 days)

The cycle starts with the menstrual phase, marked by the shedding of the uterine lining, known as the endometrium. More commonly referred to as your period, this phase unfolds over roughly five days and is the body’s way of expelling the unfertilised egg and excess uterine tissue.

Follicular phase

Next up is the follicular phase. During this phase, the menstrual curtains close. The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) encourages the development of multiple follicles in the ovaries, with one taking the spotlight and becoming the dominant follicle.

This phase is characterised by rising oestrogen levels, so it’s normal to feel a little low or experience some PMS symptoms. Essentially by the end of the follicular phase, the uterine lining is thickened ready for a potential pregnancy.

Ovulation (around day 14)

Occurring at around day 14 of the menstrual cycle, during ovulation the egg is released from the ovary and makes its way down the fallopian tube. This is the peak of fertility, and if conception is on the cards, this is your prime time.

Luteal phase

Following ovulation, the body transitions into the luteal phase. During this stage the released egg transforms into the corpus luteum, shedding its former shell, and begins the production of progesterone. This is the hormone responsible for creating a supportive atmosphere for a possible embryo.

At around day 21 of your cycle, if the pregnancy spot remains unclaimed, the luteal phase comes to an end. As progesterone production slows, levels of progesterone and oestrogen are so low that the uterus lining breaks down and the cycle begins again.

What are the common issues women experience?

Plenty of women navigate the rollercoaster of premenstrual syndrome (or as we call it: PMS), so feeling a bit low during your time of the month is completely normal. Arriving with a medley of both physical and emotional changes, PMS is the body’s way of letting you know that your period is nearing and brings with it all kinds of symptoms from bloating, cravings and acne, to mood swings and fatigue.

But fear not! There are lots of tried and tested ways to alleviate symptoms; it's all about understanding, embracing, and taking steps to manage how you’re feeling at any one time.

Self-care during your cycle

Exercise regularly

Exercising can often help to regulate your menstrual cycle phases and hormones, and it’s important to know at which point in your cycle it’s best to exercise.

During the menstrual and follicular phases, when your hormones take a bit of a breather, your body is in superhero mode for intense training. Your body is a carb-burning machine, making it prime time for some high-intensity workouts.

As you approach the luteal phase and energy levels dip, consider incorporating yoga or Pilates into your routine. These gentle practices not only enhance overall strength but also help release muscle tension, making them perfect companions for this phase of your menstrual cycle.

If you feel able to exercise while on your period, go for it! The release of endorphins is likely to give you a post-workout ‘high’ that can help you to feel great at a not-so-great time.

Have a bubble bath

There’s nothing that says relaxation more than running a hot bath and soaking away the day’s stresses. Throw in a bath bomb from the Bomb Cosmetics Gift Packs Sweet Illusion set and let the sweet scents soothe your skin. To battle bodily fatigue, why not try the REN Atlantic Kelp and Microalgae Anti-Fatigue Bath Oil? Designed to reduce the effects of stress and help energise the skin, you'll emerge from your bath feeling physically rejuvenated as well as mentally refreshed.

Entertain a pamper night

After your refreshing bath and just before indulging in a solid, rejuvenating 8-hour sleep, giving your skin some pampering love is the perfect way to unwind and soothe any discomfort you might be experiencing with your menstrual cycle. Try the ELEMIS Balancing Lavender Toner to restore hydration and leave you with a revitalised and refreshed sensation.

Eat healthily

Show your body some love by feeding it with wholesome, delectable goodies. Choose mood-boosting options such as protein-rich foods, whole grains, leafy vegetables, and healthy fats. Don't forget to keep the hydration game strong – not only does it fuel your body, but it also adds that extra radiant, healthy glow that your skin might be craving during your time of the month.

Find out more

For more inspiration, top tips and informative guides head to the allbeauty blog today. Or, to discover endless ways to unwind and ace self-care during your time of the month, explore the full collection of skincare and bath & body products at allbeauty.

allbeauty
Writer and expert
View allbeauty's profile
allbeauty