Dolly Doctor

Circling Back T0 Your Menstrual Cycle To Find Out What’s Actually Happening In Your Body

There are four phases.
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It’s kind of insane that we walk around everyday with a menstrual cycle doing its thing inside our bodies.

WATCH: Woolworths unveils Period Care rebrand.

Our bodies are amazing. They work to keep us functioning without much influence from us at all – it just does its thing.

Even though the menstrual cycle likes to test us with odd pains and discomfort, it’s ultimately the part of our body we have the most constant relationship with.

While we may not know exactly what is going on when we’re bleeding once a month, it is the most obvious and physical reminder that there is a whole world of weird and wonderful things happening.

Different glands and hormones dictate the menstrual cycle, but there are four distinct phases that you should know to better acquaint yourself with what is actually going on every month.

Here are the four phases of your menstrual cycle. 

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Your period can change in length every month. (Credit: Getty)

Menstruation 

AKA your period.

You know the drill: Once a month you are going to bleed.

In scientific terms, this is when the thickened uterine lining is released from the body through the vagina. Better Health reports that the fluid is full of “blood, cells from the lining of the uterus (endometrial cells) and mucus.”

NHS UK says that we can “lose less than 16 teaspoons of blood (80ml)” during our period but on average it’s about “six to eight teaspoons.”

A period can last from three days to a week. 

Follicular phase

According to Better Health, the follicular phase starts on the first day of menstruation, and it ends when you ovulate.

This is when the “pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)”, and it stimulates the ovaries.

Once the ovaries are infused with the hormone, it produces five to 20 follicles (aka cysts) which then come to the surface.

These follicles contain “an immature egg,” but only one egg will mature in most months, and the others die.

The follicles promote the thickening of the uterus lining to prepare for a possible pregnancy.

This process happens on roughly day 10 of the 28-34 day cycle.

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Ovulation is the shortest period. (Credit: Getty)

Ovulation 

This process takes place mid-cycle, which is about two weeks after the menstruation process starts.

According to Better Health, the follicular phase triggers the ovulation period by increasing the level of estrogen in your body.

Then a part of your brain called the hypothalamus notices the rising levels of a “chemical called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH).”

Then this hormone encourages the pituitary gland to increase the levels of another hormone called luteinising (LH) and FSH.

So many hormones!

Then in two days, the ovulation takes place through the increase of LH. Then the egg moves through the fallopian tube and into the uterus “by waves of small, hair-like projections.”

Eggs typically have a lifespan of 24 hours, and if it is not fertilised by sperm, it dies.

Luteal phase

This happens between ovulation and the beginning of your period.

The process includes the follicle mentioned in the follicular phase that helped release the egg and the hormones which work to assist the ripening (thickening) of the uterus, as reported by Healthline.

Basically, your body is trying to curate a cosy and favourable place for a possible baby.

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The pill is one way to control your cycle. (Credit: Getty)

The four phases can be tracked throughout the month with various apps and on calendars. And some women even prefer to opt-out of taking birth control and track their ovulation instead.

However involved you choose to be with the process of your menstrual cycle is up to you, but being aware of what is going on can help you manage pain and other uncomfortable elements of navigating ovulation and periods.

We also understand that when you’re experiencing menstruation for the first time, it’s hard to know the difference between symptoms that are a normal occurrence and symptoms that indicate an underlying issue. So, here’s what to look out for when menstruating.

Have a question for Dolly Doctor? Drop us an email – dollydoctor@aremedia.com.au

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