Getting to know your monthly cycle!
One of the first steps on the journey to discovering your menstrual cycle is unlocking the knowledge of what and how your monthly moon cycle is made up. Now I dropped the word in there, ‘moon‘.
Why, well when it comes to our menstrual cycle in today’s day and age it’s often also referred to as our ‘moon cycle‘ due to it’s link and flow with the moon. Without getting all ancient ancestral health on you, although today our mensural cycle is more commonly known as our ‘monthly cycle’ we actually menstruate moonthly – meaning we menstruate with the moon’s lunar cycle, which occurs 13 times a year (not 12 like a calendar month). You can read more about this and other taboo period topics here in ’13 things every women needs to know about her period.”
You see darling – your cycle traditionally was always seen as a gift that ebb’s and flows through life somewhat similar to the tides of the ocean. High tide, to low tide and to high tide again. With every day the seas looking slightly different; wavey, windy, still or even cyclonic. Just like how the tides continually change, the moon changes, as do the seasons change throughout the year as well as our own inner cycle journey every month.
Everything is cyclical, meaning it motions in the way of a circle, in flow and harmony. This can also be said for our food habits, how we move our body as well as how we feel emotionally and physically. As women we’re not designed to do the same thing day in, day out, despite being encouraged to embrace the 24-hr males cycle.
As women we have a 28 day cycle and this cycle of yours is a beautiful gift, despite what you may currently think, or how it currently feels.
Getting to know this cycle of yours intimately can unlock aspects of your health and wellbeing that have been covered over for too long. Like migraines, food cravings, heavy period pain, fatigue, PCOS, Endometriosis, and the emotional mood swings. PMS is not real, despite what we’ve been told. I believe these are signs our body is messaging us with to show us what it likes, loves and doesn’t like. Like street signs that guide us to balance.
The 4 phases that make up your menstural cycle:
Phase 1: Menstruation – Bleeding
This phase is the beginning of you cycle, marking the end of the old and start of the new. Physically when your body has not conceived, or have an implantation of a fertilised egg the uterus lining sheds through blood (our period) and a new cycle begins.
Menstruation lasts approximately 3-7 days in length.
Phase 2: Follicular Phase – Pre Ovulation
After the shredding of the unused/not needed uterus lining has occurred from our previous cycle via menstruation our body begins to prepare the next uterus lining for ovulation and potential conception. This begins our Follicular phase, it get’s this name ‘follicular’ as your pituitary gland releases a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FHS). This FSH hormone stimulates the follicles (where your eggs are) in one of your ovaries to mature. Then this same gland the pituitary (the size of a pea and lives in the base of your brain) begins to release the Luteinising Hormone (LH) which is responsible for ovulation.
This phase lasts approximately 7-10 days in length.
Phase 3: Ovulation
This phase is generally where our body is the most fertile and Day 14 of our cycle is often referred to as “ovulation day”, not what I’d label the day but let me guide you through how this happens if you’re hearing this for the first time. This Ovulation phase is an accumulation of the ‘hard’ work of your body over the previous two phases. Just before we ovulate our body gets a surge of the LH hormone which cases the dominant follicle to burst open and release it’s egg into the fallopian tube ready for conception. This egg survives for 12-24 hours where it either becomes fertilised or dies. As a women our body for roughly 2 weeks has been building up and leading up to this big moment (kind of like the build up for a wedding).
The Ovulation phase lasts approximately 2-4 days in length.
Phase 4: Luteal – Post Ovulation
The final phase of our cycle is the longest and I like to split it into two halves. (if you’ve taken my Seasonal classes and know about the 5 Outer Seasons, this will all just click into place for you.)
It’s often seen as the most challenging stage of our cycle, here’s what happens. When conception doesn’t take place the bodies hormones change to prepare for the uterus lining (that’s not needed) to be released, aka menstruation. As this process takes place over the length of this phase women too often experience signs of imbalance, also labeled as PMS by modern doctors. Of all the phases this is the phase that requires the most nurturing and nourishment.
This phase lasts approximately 10-14 days in length.
** Reminder: Every women’s cycle length is unique to her, just as our seasons around the world are unique to each location. Getting to know your cycle and living in tune with your cycle, flowing through the phases/seasons can aid in rebalancing your cycle length and cycle challenges.
Within each of the 4 phases there are other non physical happenings that occur that can either amplify our health or hinder it. Things such as our emotions, lifestyle, foods, movement and lots more. (blog post coming on this too… have specific questions re: each phase and what to do? Comment below.)
How do I know my own Cycle Phases?
The next question is always how and what is the best way to discover my phases and when each phase is occurring for me?
My answer always – FREE track your cycle.