What Happens To Your Body On Each Day Of Your Menstrual Cycle

Your menstrual cycle is divided into the menstrual, follicular, ovulation and luteal phases. Each phase is accompanied with specific changes that can influence your mood, appetite or even sleep. Here is a brief recount of the menstrual cycle starting from day one.

Menses 1

The menstrual cycle is all about preparing your body for possible pregnancies. But besides being curious, why should you educate yourself on what happens to your body during your menstrual cycle? Yes, the main goal of your cycle is pregnancy but it’s probably affecting every aspect of your life too! From mood to appetite, discomfort or even sleep, a deeper look into when some hormonal changes occur can help explain how you feel at certain times.

The menstrual cycle starts with bleeding or shedding of your uterine lining. The four phases of your cycle are the menstrual, follicular, ovulation and luteal phases.

Menstrual phase (day 1 to 5)

This phase starts when your period starts. When the egg from your last cycle isn’t fertilized, your body no longer needs it’s thick cushioned uterine lining which it prepared for your fertilized egg! Consequently, your thickened uterine lining is deemed unnecessary and is shedded as period blood.

Feeling tired? Looks like your estrogen levels have dropped. Hold on while your hormone levels gradually start increasing again. This phase lasts anywhere between 3 to 7 days although some women have longer periods.

Follicular phase (day 1 to 13)

This phase starts with your menstrual phase and ends with ovulation. It can range anywhere from about 11 to 27 days depending on your own cycle. Your brain signals your ovaries to produce follicles containing immature eggs via follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Usually, only one egg will mature during ovulation. This lucky egg's follicle sets off a boost in estrogen levels causing your uterine lining to thicken for the baby-to-be to grow.

Ovulation phase (day 14)

Estrogen produced by the maturing follicle causes your pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH) which kickstarts ovulation. Once the mature egg cell is released you’re all set for getting pregnant. In fact, this is the only phase where you can get pregnant. Sperm from a few days before ovulation can still fertilize the egg. Ovulation usually occurs on day 14 of a 28 day menstrual cycle. The egg will die if not fertilized within 12 to 24 hours of release. 

With estrogen levels at their peak, you might notice egg-white like mucus discharge along with an increase in body temperature. Estrogen levels usually drop right after ovulation.

Luteal phases (day 15 to 28)

Remember that chosen follicle that released your egg? It becomes the corpus luteum and is now in charge of keeping that uterine lining thick and ready for a fertilized egg. The former follicle does this by releasing progesterone along with a bit of estrogen. If you get pregnant then your body produces the human gonadotropin hormone (hCG).This hormone is used during pregnancy tests. If you don’t get pregnant then your corpus luteum is slowly absorbed leading to less released progesterone and estrogen. This leads to a period and shedding your uterine lining.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

So it's that time of the month where your period is in 5 to 11 days (during luteal phase). Your thoughts and mood are all over the place and to make things worse you get an acne breakout. Wait, now you're craving food like crazy? You might be wondering, what is going on?

Turns out these are symptoms of premenstrual syndrome which affects about 75% of women in one way or another. Rest assured that these symptoms are normal. You should still look out for any abnormal changes in your menstrual cycle! 

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279054/

https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/stages-of-menstrual-cycle

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/menstrual-cycle

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