Knowing about the menstrual cycle and the phases of the
menstrual cycle is a great way to understand your body. Each month a woman’s
body goes through a series of changes in preparation for the possibility of
pregnancy. This series of hormone changes is called the menstrual cycle.
During the menstrual cycle, an egg develops and is released from the ovaries – a process called ovulation. At the same time the hormonal changes help to prepare the uterus for pregnancy by creating a thick lining to cushion the fertilized egg. If ovulation takes place and the egg isn’t fertilized than the uterus sheds the lining through the vagina AKA your period.
the menstrual cycle can be divided into four phases:
- Menstrual phase
- Follicular phase
- Ovulation phase
- Luteal phase
Now lets dive in a little deeper and see what happens within each phase of the menstrual cycle.
Menstruation or in other words your period – consists of the shedding of the uterine lining. It goes from the uterus through your cervix and out through your vaginal opening.
The follicular phase is all about your body preparing for pregnancy each month. Your hormone – estrogen – begins to tell your body to thicken the lining on the walls of the uterus to cushion and prepare for the fertilizes egg. Another hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is important during this phase as it stimulates the ovarian follicles to grow. Each of the follicles contain an egg.
Your estrogen levels rise dramatically during this phase and continue to peak until ovulation.
The ovulation phase triggers a surge of estrogen and a spike in the luteinizing hormone (LH). This hormone allows the follices to release an egg. If you have a 28 day cycle ovulation occurs on day 14, in general it happens between days 11 and 16 before your upcoming period.
At this point your ovaries release a mature egg and the egg travels out of the ovary into the nearest fallopian tube and into your uterus. Healthline says that any point during the egg’s journey, sperm can fertilize it. The uterus is now lined with a thick cushion to prepare for the fertilized egg. If the egg does not get fertilized during the 24 hour time frame the egg will dissolve.
The final phase of the menstrual cycle is called the luteal phase. During this phase the follice turns into a mass of cells called the corpus luteum. Which then releases progesterone which keeps the uterine wall thick and ready for the fertilized egg. If the egg does not get fertilized during ovulation then the corpus luteum will dissolve into the body.
Both estrogen and progesterone hormone levels will drop and mark the end of this phase and beginning of the menstrual phase.
The menstrual cycle is composed of four phases that uniquely play a part to get our bodies ready for pregnancy.