Or perhaps I should title this one ‘the crap they forgot to tell you about your periods’. What do you think?
Because most of us were never briefed on the full mysteries of the menstrual cycle.
Sure, we learned what we needed to know about the birds and bees, why we aren’t really bleeding out of our bottoms (!) and other useful information such as how to hide a tampon in the palm of your hand whilst sneaking off to the toilet at high school or how to sit so your sanitary towel didn’t shake itself loose.
But they most definitely didn’t mention a word about the constant emotional rollercoaster.
Or the brain fog that heartlessly takes a grip when we least expect it and leave us unable to form even the simplest of sentences.
Or the sudden desire to smash a dinner plate over our partner’s head when they dare to utter the words ‘what’s for tea?’.
Or even the reason we start feeling decidedly amorous towards our partners for a couple of days each month and blow a month’s wages in our local Ann Summers store.
There came a time when I was sick and tired of the hormonal ride.
I deserved to know more about the whims of my brain and body. I wanted to stop fighting nature and I wanted to embrace the natural of my own body instead.
And that’s exactly what I did.
So this is my gift to you: everything you could ever wish to know about the four phases of your menstrual cycle. Use this information wisely and share it among the other women in your life.
Phase 1: Your Period
You’re experiencing uncomfortable twinges or full-blown agony, you’ve got sore boobs, you feel as you’ve got a knife through your lower back, you feel nauseous, and tired, and emotional and you just want to lie down somewhere dark and hope it all goes away soon. Welcome to your period! Enjoy the next 3-7 days of bleeding…
You’re going through all of this ‘fun’ thanks to plunging progesterone levels which cause you to shed the lining of your uterus plus a small amount of blood. Your cervix is firm, low and slightly open and you won’t be producing any kind of cervical fluid at this point.
Psychologically, you’ll be feeling quiet, withdrawn and utterly anti-social causing your productivity, motivation and brain power to hit rock bottom. I’m speaking from experience here.
Phase 2: Follicular
During the follicular phase, your body releases a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone aka FSH which signals to your ovaries to launch the ‘ripening’ process. Your cervical fluid loosens and becomes creamier in texture and your cervix is hard, closed and low.
Thanks to rising oestrogen and testosterone (yes, women have testosterone too!) this week you’ll feel much better. You’ll notice that your brain is ‘getting into gear’ again and you feel more powerful, assertive and strong than last week. Phew! I’m glad that’s all over.
Phase 3: Ovulation
This is when the exciting stuff happens! On around day 14, one of your ovaries will release an egg and you will be at your most fertile for the next 12-24 hours. If you’re trying to fall pregnant, now is the time to get cosy with your partner 😉 And of course, if you’re following natural contraceptive methods, now is the time to be careful!
Your cervical fluid becomes clear, stretchy and like egg white, you experience a small spike in core body temperature and your cervix will become soft, move higher and open slightly. You could also experience mittelschmitz– slight ovulatory discomfort. (I do!)
Your oestrogen and testosterone levels will peak at this point, and you will feel at your absolute best. You’ll feel more confident, express yourself better, come slightly more spontaneous and will feel just like a sex goddess. Seriously! You’ll make more of an effort with your appearance (and probably wonder why you don’t do this so often). Interestingly, you’ll also become more attractive to the opposite sex.
Phase 4: Luteal
The mad excitement of last week’s ovulation has passed and (presuming you haven’t fallen pregnant) your reproductive system will start winding down again. For the first couple of days after ovulation, you’ll feel slightly sluggish thanks to the sharp decline of oestrogen and testosterone, and the slow increase of progesterone. Your cervical fluid become stickier once again, and is actually hostile to sperm at his point. Sorry lads!
You’ll start feeling like one of those annoying battery-powered toys that is slowly running out of battery power- you’re likely feel lethargic and experience food cravings, headaches and migraines, skin breakouts, anxiety, moodiness and even depression.
So over the course of the next few months, be mindful of the flow of your body and mind over the course of your cycle. Don’t fight what is happening and instead embrace the wonders of nature.
Because your menstrual cycle isn’t really crazy- it’s absolutely amazing. I just wish they’d told me earlier!