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Dealing with & understanding the phases of menstrual cycle

Dealing with & understanding the phases of menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle in women makes for an important part of their physical well-being yet many women don’t know how periods affect them.

The onset of menstruation usually occurs between the age of 10 and 12. This stage of a woman’s life is called puberty. After the onset of puberty in women, their bodies go through a cycle of changes over the course of every 28 days. This sequence of events that takes place in four phases is known as the menstrual cycle in women.

In this article, we discuss the phases of the menstrual cycle, along with how a woman can make the most of each phase.   

Phase 1 - Menstruation - Day 1 to 5

What’s happening in your body?

The first phase of the menstrual cycle  lasts for 5 days. On the first day, the thick lining of the uterus (endometrial lining) begins to shed when the hormone progesterone plunges. Bleeding takes place because the endometrial lining is formed over blood vessels and once this lining sheds, it tears away from these blood vessels causing pain and bleeding.

What you experience?

You may experience cramping pains in your pelvis, legs and back. The cramping occurs due to the contracting of the uterus, which helps the endometrium shed. Cramping is also caused by the contraction of abdominal muscles as they try to expel the menstrual fluid. Women generally have the lowest energy during these days.

What you should do?

Using hot water bottles and having lukewarm milk with dissolved turmeric powder helps reduce the period pain. One must try to get adequate rest during this phase. Practicing deep breathing or a hot Epsom salt bath can also help. It is also important to stay hydrated at all times.

What you should eat?

Women should increase their iron intake. Foods rich in iron include egg yolk, spinach, liver, oysters, soybeans, lentils and chickpeas. One should avoid cold and raw food.

Phase 2 - Follicular - Day 6 to 13

What’s happening in your body?

This phase follows after the menstruation phase and lasts till day 13 of the  menstrual cycle. It is called the follicular phase because a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is released by the pituitary gland which causes the follicles, containing the eggs, to mature. This also causes the endometrial lining to thicken once again.

This phase can be identified by thick vaginal discharge. The last 5 days of this stage are a woman’s fertile window, which means that sexual intercourse will most likely result in a pregnancy. If a woman becomes pregnant, she does not experience any of the latter phases.

What you experience?

During this phase of menstrual cycle, women have more energy and mood and brain function improve. The testosterone increases the libido while estrogen reduces the appetite. Overall mood improves. Also, since this phase is a fertile window, you may feel more sexually aroused.

What you should do?

Since brain function improves during this stage, it is a good idea to make big decisions and start new projects. Going out and expressing your opinions and participating in social gatherings can be rewarding. Incorporating some amount of physical exercise may also feel great.

What you should eat?

Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli and cabbage may help you better metabolize your estrogen. Avocado, olive oil and nuts are rich in Vitamin E, which is needed for the follicle.

Phase 3 - Ovulation - Day 14

What’s happening in your body?

During this phase of menstrual cycle, the egg cell is released from the ovary. It is the 14th day of the cycle and can be identified by clear and elastic vaginal discharge. This phase begins when the rise in luteinizing hormone causes the main follicle to bulge and rupture. This releases the egg. The egg stays 12 hours which is the best time for a woman to get pregnant, if she wants.

What you experience?

Some women start to experience cramps and slight bleeding can also sometimes occur during this phase. You may also feel particularly energetic and confident.

What you should do?

As a natural confidence booster, this phase works best for public speaking tasks and job interviews. Physical activity is enjoyed by most women during this phase.

What you should eat?

Women need to increase the intake of Vitamin B and zinc. Eat lots of leafy greens, meat, fish, whole grain and eggs. Increase water intake.

Phase 4 - Luteal - Day 15 to 28

What’s happening in your body?

The last phase of the women’s menstrual cycle is the premenstrual phase, is also known as luteal phase. It starts from day 15 and lasts till the 28th. This phase starts when the egg released during ovulation gets located in the Fallopian tube. If not inseminated, the egg disintegrates after 24 hours. By the end of this phase, the hormone responsible for retaining the endometrium gets used up, thus leading to the menstruation phase of the next cycle.

What you experience?

Women may feel bloated, have swollen or tender breasts, have mood swings, feel more introverted, crave sweets, have trouble paying attention, have headaches and cramps.

What you should do?

It’s important to eat healthy during this phase. Also, it is great to have a little me-time and incorporate relaxation techniques like meditation.

What you should eat?

Salt, caffeine, chocolates and alcohol should be avoided and healthy calcium rich foods should be consumed. Beta-carotene is needed to balance the hormones. It is found in leafy greens, and yellow and orange foods such as pineapple.

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