The 4 Menstrual Cycle Phases

She makes her appearance once a month, but do you know how wonderfully complex your menstrual cycle really is? A women’s cycle has four phases: menstruation, follicular, ovulation, and luteal. Understanding the different menstrual cycle phases is crucial, as all play a vital role in your ability to get pregnant. Also, not to mention being educated on your body is admirable and can help to improve your overall health!   

Phases Of The Menstrual Cycle

A common misconception is that menstruation is the entirety of your cycle, and once the bleeding subsides, it’s over. However, a typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long! Of course, each woman experiences a unique experience, and menstrual flow may occur every 21 to 35 days. Regardless, here at Kernodle OB/GYN, we are committed to ensuring you understand your body and the stages of the menstrual cycle.  

Menstruation Phase

The first day your uterine lining sheds and you bleed is considered day one of the menstrual cycle. Also known as your period, this phase usually lasts anywhere from three to seven days. Healthline states this phase begins when an egg from a previous cycle isn’t fertilized. Because the thickened lining of your uterus, which is what would support pregnancy, is no longer needed, it sheds through your vagina. During your menstruation phase, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Cramps
  • Sore and tender breasts
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Acne

Generally, a girl will start her period around two years after their breasts start growing and a year after beginning to experience white vaginal discharge. According to the NHS, the average age for a girl to get her first period in the United States is roughly 12 years old.  

Follicular Phase

Phase two out of the four menstrual cycle phases is the follicular phase. In this phase, your pituitary gland, located underneath your brain, releases a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH helps control the menstrual cycle and stimulates the growth of eggs in the ovaries. The follicular phase begins on a woman’s first day of menstruation and goes until the beginning of ovulation. 

During this phase, a woman’s estrogen will rise as it prepares an egg to be released. Because of this, some women may experience higher energy levels, clearer skin, and an increased sex drive. 

Ovulation Phase

About midway through the menstrual cycle phases, women will go through ovulation. Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovaries into the fallopian tube. This is the only time you can become pregnant during your menstrual cycle. If you want to conceive, understanding the ovulation phase is crucial. The fertile window usually occurs 10-16 days before your next period but can vary. Some symptoms of ovulation include:

  • White discharge
  • Slightly elevated basal body temperature
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Breast tenderness

If you and your partner are having trouble getting pregnant, it may be beneficial to speak with a doctor about tracking your cycle. Knowing when you’re ovulating can play a significant role in conception. 

Luteal Phase

Beginning after the ovulation phase is the luteal phase. During this time, the uterine lining is thick and ready for a fertilized egg to implant. This is also when the ovaries make a hormone called progesterone which helps regulate your cycle and prepare your uterus for pregnancy. If you become pregnant, the fertilized egg will attach to the thickened lining. If you don’t get pregnant, the uterine wall will shed, resulting in a woman getting her period. After the luteal cycle is complete, the menstruation phase begins, and the cycle repeats itself until menopause. 

This guide to the menstrual cycle phases is a great first step in gaining a better understanding of your body. Are you a woman who has questions about your period or menstrual cycle? Kernodle OB/GYN is here to guide you through this beautiful yet confusing part of being a woman. Check out our website or give us a call for more information.

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