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The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

Phase 1: Menstruation- usually occurs between Days 1-5

Simply, menstruation is when you bleed, aka when you get your period. A cycle lasts around 28 days and is counted from the first day of your period, to the first day of your next period. If you are going through puberty and experiencing your first periods, you may find your cycle is as long as 45 days. Your first period, on average, is likely to occur between the ages of 12-13 but can start as early as 8 and as late as 16. 

Each month your body naturally prepares to get pregnant. If you don’t conceive, your uterus lining sheds and this is what you see when you bleed. Your period will contain blood, mucus and tissue, so don’t be concerned if you see any of this. This is all completely natural! To cope with this stage, you can wear tampons, pads, liners, menstrual cups and period pants. All offer different support and are tailored to different flow heaviness.

Symptoms:

You may have tender breasts, cramps, mood swings, headaches/migraines, nausea, bloating, fatigue.

Phase 2: The Follicular Phase- usually occurs between Days 1-14

You are born with all your eggs; around 1 million! During puberty, your eggs begin to develop and mature. During the follicular phase, the longest phase of your cycle, around 11-20 eggs begin to mature, with only 1 fully maturing. Your pituitary gland releases FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) which tells the ovaries to start forming follicles; sacs which contain the eggs where they can develop. One develops more than the others, known as the dominant follicle which produces the 1 fully matured egg. This follicle releases more of the oestrogen hormone which causes the womb lining to thicken again, as it prepares to create an environment for an embryo to grow. 

Symptoms: 

You may feel higher energy levels, higher libido (sex drive), glowing skin and generally happier! 

Phase 3: Ovulation, happens mid cycle, roughly around Day 14 for around 24hrs

As the oestrogen levels increase, FSH decreases and there is a rise of luteinising hormone (LH). All these cause the ovary to release the fully matured egg. This travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus, where it will survive for 24hrs.

Symptoms:

You may experience tender breasts, changes in cervical mucus, cramps, and bloating. 

Phase 4: The Luteal Phase, usually occurs Days 14-28

The corpus luteum (cells in the ovary) produce more oestrogen and progesterone, causing the lining of the uterus to thicken. If fertilisation doesn’t occur, then the cells die, stopping the release of progesterone and causing the uterus lining to shed. 

Symptoms: 

You may experience breaking out, bloating, tender breasts, fatigue, moodiness and cravings - similar to when you are menstruating. It is a good time however to try and eat well as this can help ease pain during menstruation. 

Newsletter, Contact and References:

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Department of Health & Human Services (2001) Menstrual cycle, Better Health Channel. Department of Health & Human Services. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/menstrual-cycle# (Accessed: April 20, 2023). 

NHS choices. NHS. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/periods/fertility-in-the-menstrual-cycle/#:~:text=The%20length%20of%20the%20menstrual,day%20before%20her%20next%20period. (Accessed: April 21, 2023).

Figure 1 found: Female reproductive organ anatomy, parts, and function (no date) Medical News Today. MediLexicon International. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/female-reproductive-organ-anatomy#overview (Accessed: April 21, 2023).

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