In this blog post I’m explaining the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle. I am still so surprised that as women we are never taught enough about this major, life changing cycle and how we can learn to understand and manage it.

I really started to understand the menstrual cycle during our IVF journey but for many of my menopause patients they have no idea just how our hormones can affect our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Often we put it down to being our fault not realising its our hormones.

So let’s explore the four fascinating phases and how they can play havoc with our sleep, mood, and munchies.


The four phases of your menstrual cycle blog post

Phase 1: Menstruation (Days 1-5)

Let's kick things off with the period party! This is when the uterine lining sheds, making its grand exit via, well, you know. During this time, oestrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest, which can leave us feeling a bit meh. You may suffer cramps, fatigue, and mood swings.  This is the time to be cosy, not plan that huge business meeting and snuggle under a blanket with a Netflix series and hot water bottle.


Phase 2 :Follicular Phase (Days 1-13)

As our bleeding comes to an end, the follicular phase steps in. Oestrogen starts to rise, giving us a burst of energy and a newfound sense of optimism. This is the time when we're most likely to hit the gym or embark on ambitious projects – we often feel most confident and settled during this time. Our diet tends to be good too! This can also be a stage where due to our changing hormones you may suffer a few nights sleep. Don’t panic it will pass and  ensuring we eat well, keep hydrated, steer clear of sugars all help to ease these symptoms. If you suffer with this restless sleep pattern magnesium can be your friend. (see our Which Magnesium is right for me? blog post of type of magnesium you should be taking)


Phase 3: Ovulation (Days 14-16)

Ah, ovulation – the golden window of fertility. Oestrogen peaks during this phase, triggering the release of an egg from the ovary. It's nature's way of saying, "Hey, let's make a baby!" We often feel sexiest, most energetic and can experience a surge in our libido during this time.  This is the time to book in that big meeting at work, organise a big party.   A few women do suffer bloating at this time and you can sometime feel the ovulation getting light cramps, if this is you 1 or 2 tsp of cider vinegar 20 min before your meals can really help, I’d also recommend you try to ease of sugar and stimulants for a day or so.

Phase 4 : Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)

Last but not least, we have the luteal phase – a.k.a. PMS central. Oestrogen takes a back seat while progesterone steals the spotlight. Progesterone prepares the uterus for implantation of an embryo and this is what sheds if we don’t have a pregnancy. This phase can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster,  one minutes you feel great and the next tearful and low. Its often during this stage where we see our craving rise and we feel like we need a sugar kick. Increase your dopamine by getting out in the fresh air, eating healthy proteins and steering clear of alcohol and stimulants can help. I am a huge fan of yoga and breathing exercises during this phase.

the four phases of the menstrual cycle

These hormonal fluctuations can play havoc with our sleep, mood and eating habits. As our oestrogen rises in the follicular phase whilst we have a surge in energy it can really impact sleep. Lack of sleep often leads to carb filled breakfast with a steaming hot latte or expresso - exactly the opposite of what our bodies need. Go for a herbal tea and protein, savoury breakfast and you will reap the rewards! The luteal phase is notorious for emotional mood swings and cravings so make sure you keep hydrated, eat plenty of protein and keep active during this phase. Even just a 30 minute daily walk can transform this phase for many women. Ovulation can be a time of feeling energetic and powerful, confident and sexy and then a day or 2 of bloating and fatigue -  our hormones are surging and this cocktail can be really challenging.

The key for you to start to build your toolkit for rebalance is to start to track your symptoms and log them. Then look at the patterns - when are you feeling your best, how does your sleep change over the 4 cycles. Then once you know this you can start to plan how to manage your symptoms.

Download our Menstrual Hormone Tracker so you can start to track the phases of your menstrual cycle and manage the symptoms. 

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