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This post is in partnership with Hancock Regional Hospital as part of their empowering women and children site. All thoughts, experiences, and opinions are my own. Be sure to check out their site for additional resources and support.
If you caught my experience going off the pill – you know that it was less than amazing. I developed cramps with a vengeance, acne, and just generally felt out of whack. I can happily say that after four or five months, things returned to normal and stabilized. The cramps lessened, the acne seemed more focused around where I was in my “cycle” and I generally just started feeling better. But it really got me thinking after reading through your comments just how many people struggled with hormonal birth control methods! Then I stumbled upon WomanCode and the Floliving app.
It started with some basic research to better understand the four phases of our cycle: Menstrual, Follicular, Ovulation, and Luteal. And that's when I learned many woman have actually ditched traditional birth control methods and started “cycle syncing.” No – that's not syncing your cycle to the moon (which btw, you totally could try since just like the moon there are four phases!) But instead, cycle syncing means you sync your lifestyle based on where you're at in their cycle, #mindblown. Meaning it's makes your life easier in every sense of the word! Regardless of what you choose to do for birth control, you can cycle sync your life; though some women do choose to use it as a form of birth control combined with others.
Honestly, there's SO much information to share about the four phases of menstruation and how to better understand them to live your best life that I decided to break this into TWO posts! Today's post I am going to break down what each phase is, what's happening in your body during that phase, what it all means for your energy levels and social/work life! And then in this post, I'm breaking down the wellness side of this information and sharing what foods to eat and how to exercise so you feel your best! Seriously this information is GOLD!
Okay, okay, now that I'm blowing your mind and you're probably geared up to understand your cycle let's talk about these four phases of menstruation and what they mean!
This is the first day of your period and can last up to a week. It's the one we learned the most about in school. In short: if you're not pregnant, your uterine lining will shed causing you to bleed. You may experience cramps during the phase due to the uterus contracting to shed the lining.
How long does the menstrual phase last?
What will your energy levels be like during the menstrual phase?
This is when you energy levels will be the lowest.
How to plan your social and work life during the menstrual phase:
Resttt during this phase! Consider blocking off your social schedule and only planning easy work if you can during your work-day. Make a date with yourself for a night in. Draw a bath, grab a good book, and indulge in some self-care!
Your follicular phase starts the same day your menstrual phase does, but lasts longer. This phase got it's name because during it, the pituitary gland secretes a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) that stimulates the follicles where your eggs are in your ovaries to grow. One of these egg cells begins to mature in a sac-like structure called a follicle. The egg matures around day 13, and then secretes a hormone that stimulates the uterus to develop a lining of blood vessels and soft tissue called endometrium.
How long does the follicular phase last?
What will your energy levels be like during the follicular phase?
You'll get a boost of energy here once the menstrual phase is over!
How to plan your social and work life during the follicular phase:
As your estrogen and testosterone levels rise so will your mood and brain functioning! This is usually when you feel like a total bad@$$ on top of your game! Consider using this time to tackle any big projects, make a big decision, throw a party, and just go all out on your plans!
During this phase the pituitary gland secretes a hormone that causes the ovary to release the matured egg cell. The egg gets released from the follicle and into your ovary. There it has a day to survive (but note, sperm can live in your uterus for up to five days so be careful if you're not trying to get pregnant!)
How long does the ovulation phase last?
1 day – BUT that doesn't mean you can only get pregnant on this day! Sperm can live in the body for up to five days, so be careful five days before and five days AFTER your ovulation day. Some people say this phase lasts 5 days for this reason.
What will your energy levels be like during the ovulation phase?
This is where you energy peaks so enjoy!
How to plan your social and work life during the ovulation phase:
It's been said that during and around ovulation is when most women feel the most beautiful, magnetic, confident, and clear of all the days. So if you can give that big presentation during this phase or book your next job interview go for it! And if there's someone you've had your eye on *romantically* this is a great time to schedule a date as studies have shown your most sexually attractive during ovulation. This is when everything just feels magnetized to you!
This phase begins after ovulation when progesterone levels increase. The progesterone helps thicken your uterine wall so that if there is a fertilized egg, it can implant itself. If no egg implants then the uterine lining sheds and you get your period at the end of this phase.
How long does the luteal phase last?
Ideally this is 12-14 days, but may vary as much as 10-16 days
Pregnancy implications of the luteal phase:
If you're luteal phase is less than 10 days it may mean you aren't producing enough progesterone and it's going to be difficult to conceive. If you've struggled with miscarriages or an inability to get pregnant at all, definitely pay attention to this phase and look into ways to increase your progesterone levels as well as consult a doctor.
What will my energy levels be like during the luteal phase?
The first few days of this phase will feel much like your ovulation phase, but then will slowly decrease, and reach an all time low during the second week. Plan for lower energy levels, less motivation, and just a generally more gentle way of life.
How to plan your social and work life during the luteal phase:
The first few days feel free to keep your social calendar packed and any work meetings you're looking to impress in. But know that as each day passes in this phase, you'll begin wanting to pull inward a little more. So make sure to keep your social and work schedules pretty light as you move through this phase – or at least leave contingency room in your schedule so you can easily switch things or shuffle things.
How to remember the different phases of your menstrual cycle:
Get in the habit of thinking of your cycle like the changing seasons throughout the year. Your menstrual phase is much like winter, where you'll want to stay inside and get cozy and it lasts almost a week. Then your follicular phase is much like spring, where your body is literally getting ready to give birth to maturing eggs. You'll want to start getting out, stretching your legs, making plans and having fun for the next week (roughly). If you've taken birth control the follicular phase is usually marked by the start of a new pack.
Next, your ovulation phase hits and it's just like Summer! Go out, have bbqs, show of your new clothes and summer body and go after what you want! This feeling will last roughly a week. Finally, you'll be in your luteal phase, which will feel much like Autumn. You'll still have a little energy at the start, but may start to experience the early onset of seasonal-affective disorder (kidding to make a point, you won't actually get SAD) akin to PMS. As the days pass and you move into winter (menstruating) you'll want to spend more and more time at home binging Netflix. This lasts roughly a weekly and a half.