How much do you know about your menstrual cycle? Do you know that most women have approximately 460 cycles in their lifetime? Many women see their menstrual cycles as a burden and sometimes as a curse. Your cycle is more than just your period. Understanding your menstrual cycle can be overwhelming, but it is the best way to be in tune with your body’s natural rhythms. Now let’s get into all you need to know about your menstrual cycle.
The 4 phases of the menstrual cycle
What if I told you that your menstrual cycle has four different phases, and each one has its uniqueness? I’m sure you want to learn more about your cycle and how it works. These 4 phases can feel very different. Identifying and knowing which phase you are experiencing can be helpful for many reasons, like knowing when you are likely to conceive. So let’s find out all the details about the four phases and what to expect.
Phase One – Menstruation
The first day of the period is day one of your monthly cycle. On this, progesterone dips, leading to the shedding of the uterine lining, AKA “your period”. I’m sure this is the phase you are most familiar with. This is because it has very physical and obvious features. An average period lasts around three to seven days, but other factors can affect the length of your period.
During this phase, since your body is busy shedding your uterine lining, your energy is low, and you feel tired, depressed and withdrawn. You always want to take a rest and be alone. If your energy is always low, try out little exercises like yoga and walking. This is your body’s way of communicating that you need to take it slow, making it the perfect opportunity to rest and recuperate.
Phase Two – The Follicular Phase
This phase comes right after your period. It is known as the follicular phase because the pituitary gland releases a hormone in your body. This hormone is called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which in turn tells your ovaries: “You need to get ready, cause you’re about to pop an egg soon” it stimulates the follicles in your ovaries to mature.
Estrogen and testosterone rise during this period. This helps to boost your energy and improve your mood too. According to researchers, this is the period where you are most extroverted. You may even feel happier and more ready to take on the world. Testosterone improves your libido, while estrogen makes you feel more self-sufficient. This may be your body’s way of seeking out a mate in time for ovulation. Make use of this time to do the things you love. Schedule time with friends, join a social group and have fun. Cardio exercises will feel increasingly good during this time too. So go out and explore those physical activities that make you feel alive.
Phase Three – The Ovulation Phase
Ovulation is a result of all the serious work your body has been doing for weeks. Remember the follicle? The one that contains the egg? It has grown larger now and produced more estrogen. Once estrogen is at its peak, they signal the brain to release luteinizing hormone (LH), which causes the ovary to release an egg. Any egg released from its follicle during this time will last for 12-24 hours.
During this period, you are more confident in your looks, so it is easy to talk about your feelings. You feel more attractive. Your skin is radiant, and your confidence is soaring. Plus, your libido will be at its highest because it’s the only phase in your cycle where you can get pregnant – your body is smart like that!
This is a great time to socialize, network at events, and go for job interviews because you feel really confident. Plan a date night with your partner, or ask someone out. Your energy is high so enjoy it.
Phase Four – The Luteal Phase
Estrogen and testosterone start to decline during this phase, and your body starts producing progesterone. You find yourself getting relaxed. However, this phase is difficult for many women. PMS symptoms creep in, like cravings for fatty and heavy comfort foods, mood swings, anxiety, headaches, back pain, breakouts, sleep disturbances, and breast tenderness. These symptoms are real and not only in your head.
Practice self-love and care during this week before your period starts. Spend time alone, eat healthy meals, do yoga, and get a massage or acupuncture. Taking magnesium supplements can help reduce hormonal headaches. If you feel more gloomy and anxious than normal, know it will pass and allow yourself to go through those emotions.
Tracking all your symptoms is a great way to understand the monthly patterns that go on in your body. That way, you know how to care for yourself at each phase. Ultimately, being in touch with your body and menstrual cycle is the key to maximizing your full potential as a woman.
Abrupt Change in the Menstrual Cycle
Your menstrual cycle can change for many reasons. A woman’s menstrual cycle is dynamic, and many factors can affect how long your period is, how heavy it is, or the symptoms you’re experiencing.
If your cycle suddenly changes or you’re not seeing your period at all – then it’s your body’s way of telling you something.
It could be:
- Extreme Weight Loss or Weight Gain: Losing or gaining too much weight or over-exercising can change your cycle. Why? If you shed too much weight, your body might stop producing the hormone that regulates your cycle. Similarly, if you add a lot of weight, your body may secrete an excess level of estrogen, which can delay or stop your period.
- Hormonal Conditions: Certain hormonal changes can alter your period, like thyroid disorders (including over and under-activity)
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that can affect your cycle, prevent ovulation and cause infertility issues. Treatment may include birth control pills to restore hormonal imbalance.
- Pregnancy: The most common cause of a changing cycle is pregnancy and childbirth. You can do a pregnancy test at home or visit your doctor to use tests to determine whether you are pregnant and how far you are gone. Also, many women do not resume their regular periods after childbirth until they have stopped breastfeeding.
Night Sweat Menstrual Cycle
By now, you should know that your period can come with multiple symptoms that feel unpleasant – cramps, hormonal headaches, mood swings, fatigue, and more symptoms that make you hit the couch, grabbing your comfiest sweats and favorite food every month.
But if you notice you are overly sweaty and heated in the days before your period, you are not imagining it. Night sweats during your period are real, and it’s more common than you think.
Sweating and hot flashes can occur during your period or before it. This happens due to fluctuations in progesterone and estrogen levels during your cycle. The hormonal fluctuations can affect the hypothalamus, which regulates the body’s internal body temperature. Night sweats are typically harmless and normal. Other reasons could be
- Imbalanced Blood Sugar: I know you want to indulge in chocolates, cookies, pizza, soda, refined carbs and high-sugar foods. They can disrupt your blood sugar level and cause night sweats due to high insulin levels. This imbalance can also cause acne.
- Anxiety: Are you always anxious? This can cause your temperature to increase, and your body will trigger sweating as a way to cool off.
- Alcohol: Alcohol disrupts your body’s natural ability to regulate its temperature, which can cause sweating and chills during your cycle.
How to Deal With Night Sweats During Your Period
Fortunately, there are many ways you can ease the discomfort and feel cool as a cucumber, no matter the phase where you are in your cycle.
- Lifestyle Changes: Excessive sweating can be a result of rapid weight gain or loss, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and consumption of spicy foods and caffeine. Limit your triggers.
- Reduce Your Bedroom Temperature: Your bedroom temperature can make your night sweats worse or better. Simple changes such as sleeping in a well-ventilated room, keeping your window open, or using a fan can make a huge difference.
- Stay Hydrated: Increase your intake of clean water and replenish your fluid loss after sweating a lot.
- Daily Hygiene: Use mild soap when taking a shower. Apply deodorant to your clean and dry skin. You can also get armpit pads to help absorb sweat before it seeps through your cloth.
- Lower Stress: Long walks, adequate rest, meditation, warm baths, yoga, and peaceful music can help improve your well-being and reduce stress.
If sweating is still making your daily life inconvenient, the night sweats are more frequent, or you have other unexplained symptoms like weight loss despite these tips, consult your doctor. They can prescribe drugs to reduce excessive night sweats and eliminate other possible causes.
Now, I hope you know more about your cycle. Your menstrual cycle can tell you a lot about what’s going on in your body and your overall health. Hopefully, you can get started on the journey to learning more about your body.