As a lady, you go through different phases of change and sometimes, these changes come off as confusing as the country you are living in. Going through puberty was a whole phase on its own where you had to ask a lot of questions, moments when biology in secondary school wasn’t enough to explain the changes you and your friends perceived differently. At least, there is one thing we all have in common – our menstrual cycles.
What Is a Menstrual Cycle?
Knowledge is power and it is important we understand in detail how our bodies work. The Menstrual Cycle is a complex topic about women. A menstrual cycle starts with the first day of the period and ends with the start of the next period. An entire menstrual cycle usually lasts between 24 and 38 days depending on the person or the variation in cycles.
Truth is, all you may know about the menstrual cycle is the part about ovulation and the menstruation phase. That isn’t really all that there is to it. The Menstrual Cycle occurs every single month in the life of a woman who has reached the childbearing age and is divided into four phases.
- Menstrual Phase
- Follicular Phase
- Ovulation phase
- Luteal Phase
The menstruation phase as we all know is the most annoying and infamous of all phases. It’s that time we experience menstrual cramps, menstrual bleeding and things all because we did not get pregnant. This usually lasts from Day 1 -5.
While the menstrual cramps exist, it may vary amongst women. Some may feel pain while others may not know that the pain exists.
We experience menstrual pains because of the imbalance of our hormones. The good news is that our menstruation doesn’t always have to be painful and we can achieve this by eating a healthy diet which will help in balancing out our hormones.
The funny thing about our knowledge of the menstrual cycle is that we think that right before or after the menstruation phase, the next phase we’d experience is the ovulation phase which is very much untrue. The follicular phase starts on the first day of menstruation and ends with ovulation (Day 1 – 13).
It is also known as the proliferative phase of the uterine cycle. During the follicular phase, our ovarian follicle which exists in the ovary secretes hormones which in turn releases eggs to be fertilized. The follicle stimulating hormone (FHS) is released by the pituitary gland which causes follicles to be formed. These formed follicles get into a competition to determine which follicle would release a mature egg for implantation in the uterine wall. In the end, the presiding follicle known as the Graafian follicle will emerge to release a mature egg into the fallopian tube to be fertilized during the ovulation phase.
This is a very popular phase after the menstruation phase. It is that phase that is very peculiar to women that are trying and not trying to get pregnant. This phase occurs right after the follicular phase (Day 14).
The ovulation phase is very evident in the lives of women as it comes with different symptoms. Some of these symptoms are but aren’t limited to heightened senses, the obvious mucus discharge, increased libido, nausea and headache etc.
You know how you start feeling horny all of a sudden? It is your body telling you that the eggs are ready to be fertilized so you can procreate and fill the earth.
If you are looking into getting pregnant, you want to take count of when your ovulation starts. If you are sexually active and you’re trying to avoid getting pregnant, you must take into consideration, your ovulation phase to prevent sperm from fertilizing your waiting eggs.
This phase occurs right after the ovulation phase and before your period starts (Day 15 – 28). At this time, progesterone produced by the corpus luteum helps thicken the uterine lining in preparation to receive a fertilized egg.
It is during this phase that some of us experience premenstrual symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, acne (common symptom amongst women), bloating and breast tenderness. Once an egg gets fertilized, progesterone from the corpus luteum supports the early pregnancy.
It is important to know that your menstrual cycle affects you as a woman. The fluctuations in hormones may alter the chemical balance in the brain. All these happening in your body can induce mood swings which women experience the majority of the time during their menstrual cycle. You go from feeling happy to being depressed all of a sudden.
I have had times when I just wanted to cry over a little thing and I’d have to remind myself that it is just the menstrual cycle that is at work in me. PMS can cause us to over obsess over our self image, even affecting how much your memory stores information.
Your body temperature can get hot suddenly even while the weather is quite cool. However, the best part of it is that you can manage your fluctuations and here are the ways to deal with the annoying PMS symptoms:
- Drink plenty of water. More liquids will help increase blood flow and reduce bloating as well as keep you hydrated why you are lacking energy.
- Eat a balanced diet, my ladies. Eat more vegetables, grains, and unprocessed protein. Avoid salt while you can because it increases your bloating.
- If you are a frequent alcohol drinker, you might want to consider reducing your alcohol intake or avoiding it totally for your own sake. Alcohol can worsen your mood. Caffeine on the other side can increase anxiety so try to cut back on them while experiencing your PMS.
- Exercise. Working out frequently or just taking walks can help make your PMS easier by boosting your mood through the production of endorphins.
- Sleep well. Your body needs as much rest as it can get. Enough rest will reduce your clumsiness, improve your memory and reduce fatigue.
While we are alive and studying our surroundings, we should take time to study our bodies as well and know what it needs and what it doesn’t need.
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