What actually is all part of the menstrual cycle? 

Mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is dis¬≠mis¬≠sed by many as an incon¬≠ve¬≠ni¬≠ence, alt¬≠hough it could be read as a mon¬≠thly health check. Would you like to learn more about the four pha¬≠ses of your mens¬≠trual cycle and how they can affect your mood?
Let‚Äôs start off easy with a little revi¬≠sion les¬≠son. We know mens¬≠trua¬≠tion. Check. We also know ovu¬≠la¬≠tion, at least as a time when pregnancy is pos¬≠si¬≠ble. But then it pro¬≠bably stops already, doesn‚Äôt it? One of the most com¬≠mon mis¬≠con¬≠cep¬≠ti¬≠ons about our period is that our cycle only takes place when we bleed. The mens¬≠trual cycle, which lasts an average of 28 days, in fact inclu¬≠des various pha¬≠ses that go bey¬≠ond the actual period and bring about hor¬≠mo¬≠nal chan¬≠ges. The natu¬≠ral cycle is often com¬≠pa¬≠red with the four sea¬≠sons: win¬≠ter, spring, sum¬≠mer and autumn.

And how are you feeling during the different phases of the cycle?

The mens¬≠trual cycle has a direct influ¬≠ence on how we feel. The sub¬≠di¬≠vi¬≠sion into dif¬≠fe¬≠rent pha¬≠ses makes the chan¬≠ges for energy and mood more com¬≠pre¬≠hen¬≠si¬≠ble. Nevertheless, each mens¬≠trua¬≠ting per¬≠son expe¬≠ri¬≠en¬≠ces their own cycle indi¬≠vi¬≠du¬≠ally. Do you some¬≠ti¬≠mes feel really tired and lazy? And on other days you feel as if the world belongs to you and you can do anything? Wel¬≠come to the club of mens¬≠trua¬≠tors!
Are you someone who loves their cycle or are you more like: ‚ÄėWho needs mens¬≠trua¬≠tion?‚Äô No mat¬≠ter how you feel about peri¬≠ods, a little more know¬≠ledge is always good. A deeper under¬≠stan¬≠ding of your indi¬≠vi¬≠dual cycle can help you to bet¬≠ter under¬≠stand your own well-being and fee¬≠lings. Because the four pha¬≠ses of the cycle repeat them¬≠sel¬≠ves month by month and thus with them pro¬≠bably also your mood chan¬≠ges. If pos¬≠si¬≠ble, it can even make sense to plan your acti¬≠vi¬≠ties accord¬≠ing to the dif¬≠fe¬≠rent cycle pha¬≠ses. Sounds crazy, doesn‚Äôt it?

Phase 1: Menstruation (winter) 

The first day of your mon¬≠thly blee¬≠ding is the begin¬≠ning of your mens¬≠trua¬≠tion and a new cycle. The first phase is actually cal¬≠led ‚Äėmens¬≠trua¬≠tion‚Äô. If we had to describe the mens¬≠trual phase, there would pro¬≠bably be terms like low energy, rest or being at home. It‚Äôs like win¬≠ter, a rather quiet, slow time to reflect. Mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is ideal for rela¬≠xing, plan¬≠ning and making decisi¬≠ons. Howe¬≠ver, if you suf¬≠fer from mens¬≠trual pain, you may want to post¬≠pone plan¬≠ning to the luteal phase (phase 4) and rest well now. Mens¬≠trua¬≠tion usually lasts bet¬≠ween three and seven days.

Phase 2: Follicular phase (spring) 

The fol¬≠li¬≠cu¬≠lar phase brings with it more energy, focus and self-con¬≠fi¬≠dence due to a rising est¬≠ro¬≠gen level. Spring fever awa¬≠kens. You are full of energy and feel free and at ease. This phase is per¬≠fect for being pro¬≠duc¬≠tive and suc¬≠cess¬≠fully mas¬≠te¬≠ring chal¬≠len¬≠ges. Sounds good, doesn‚Äôt it? And it gets even bet¬≠ter: This ener¬≠ge¬≠tic phase is the lon¬≠gest in your cycle! Because it over¬≠laps with the last days of the first mens¬≠trual phase.

Phase 3: Ovulation (summer)

When we ovu¬≠late, more energy and crea¬≠ti¬≠vity is released as hor¬≠mone levels con¬≠ti¬≠nue to rise. This gives you the warm and sum¬≠mery fee¬≠ling that you can do anything. The time of ovu¬≠la¬≠tion is a power phase and the best time to invest in per¬≠so¬≠nal rela¬≠ti¬≠ons¬≠hips and to be active. Ovu¬≠la¬≠tion is usually right in the middle of a regu¬≠lar cycle. Some people can feel ovu¬≠la¬≠tion in the form of pain. The middle pain lasts only a few hours. This is also your fer¬≠tile cycle phase and the chan¬≠ces of get¬≠ting pregnant are high!

Phase 4: Luteal phase (autumn)

In the last phase, the hor¬≠mone pro¬≠ges¬≠te¬≠rone domi¬≠na¬≠tes the cycle. You may feel a little more sen¬≠si¬≠tive during this time, want to pull back and are thin¬≠king a lot. But be com¬≠pas¬≠sio¬≠nate with yourself, because self-cri¬≠ti¬≠cism can be on the agenda as well now. Many people asso¬≠ciate this phase with pre¬≠mens¬≠trual syn¬≠drome, also known as PMS. The sym¬≠ptoms often start four to seven days before the start of your next mens¬≠trua¬≠tion. The luteal phase and thus the cycle end on the last day before the onset of your next mens¬≠trual period. With mens¬≠trua¬≠tion, the cycle starts all over again.

How about cycle tracking? 

Your mood chan¬≠ges pro¬≠bably repeat them¬≠sel¬≠ves month by month, without you having noti¬≠ced any regu¬≠la¬≠rity so far? Then it‚Äôs time for you to become more aware of your cycle and write down some key infor¬≠ma¬≠tion, such as day of your cycle, mood and energy level. You can do this the old-fashio¬≠ned way on paper or use one of the many mens¬≠trual tracking apps. You might won¬≠der why you should fol¬≠low your cycle con¬≠ciously? Over time, you will pro¬≠bably reco¬≠gnize a pat¬≠tern in your cycles and know how you will feel in the dif¬≠fe¬≠rent pha¬≠ses. Then you can think about when your next lazy or pro¬≠duc¬≠tive phase awaits you. If you know your cycle, you can under¬≠stand your own mood chan¬≠ges more easily and under¬≠stand your energy fluc¬≠tua¬≠tions bet¬≠ter. Living in sync with your cycle and anti¬≠ci¬≠pa¬≠ting how you will feel in the next few weeks sounds pretty temp¬≠t¬≠ing, doesn‚Äôt it?

Note: If you use hor¬≠mo¬≠nal con¬≠tracep¬≠tion (e.g. the pill, spi¬≠ral or Nuva¬≠Ring), your cycle will be inten¬≠tio¬≠nally chan¬≠ged. Hor¬≠mo¬≠nes sup¬≠press your ovu¬≠la¬≠tion to pre¬≠vent the pos¬≠si¬≠bi¬≠lity of pregnancy. Accord¬≠in¬≠gly, your cycle pha¬≠ses will also feel dif¬≠fe¬≠rent and the descrip¬≠ti¬≠ons in this text pro¬≠bably do not apply to you. 

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.