Menstrual Cycle Overview
It’s not uncommon to think of the “menstrual cycle” as just the period where there is bleeding, however the menstrual cycle is the entire process of bleeding (menses phase) to ovulation to the moment before you start bleeding again. These cycles usually last about 28 days; with the “menses phase” lasting anywhere between 2 to 7 days normally.
Generally lasting between 2 to 7 days, this phase is characterized by vaginal bleeding and great discomfort. This is because of the shedding of the uterus lining, a thickened wall meant to catch the fertilized egg if pregnancy had occurred. This wall needs to be replaced because hormonal changes signal your uterus to contract, and the shedding to take place. These hormones also cause cramps to varying degrees.
Follicular phase is roughly from day 6 to day 14 and consists of the uterus lining being built back up to support the possible coming pregnancy. Additionally the body is also preparing one egg to be matured and released for ovulation
Ovulation is the release of the matured egg and for it to travel down the fallopian tubes for fertilization. Women experience a spike in testosterone during this phase. Women generally experience an increased sex drive, muscle mass, bone health, and overall improved happiness from the spike in testosterone. Almost always happens at around day 14.
This is about the last 2 weeks of the menstrual cycle. By now the egg has traveled down the fallopian tubes. If fertilization occurs then it will stick to the uterus lining, and impregnation will have happened. If not, then hormones drop, and a new cycle begins.
Menstrual Cycle Hormones
There are three main hormones at play here; Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone.
Estrogen is the hormone that regulates the growth and maintenance of the uterus lining as well as maturing the eggs in your ovaries. Progesterone (probably the only one you hadn’t heard of) is basically the counter-weight for estrogen as it balances the effects of it as well as provides an overall relaxed feeling when in great numbers like in the luteal phase. Testosterone is probably the surprise here though. It actually helps with sex drive during a woman’s fertile time, to build muscle mass, increase bone strength, and help to give an overall sense of wellbeing and happiness.
Symptoms and When to Talk to a Doctor
Here are some symptoms of if you’re in your Menses Phase, about to be in it.
- Mood Swings
- Trouble Sleeping
- Cramps in lower Abdomen
- Tender or sensitive Breasts
- Food Cravings
Here are some symptoms that you should see a doctor immediately.
- If you have not had your first period by the age of 16
- If you’re periods suddenly stop unexpectedly
- Severe cramps/ pain in abdomen
- After using birth control your period has not returned in more than 3 months
- Experience heavier than normal periods
- Bleeding for more days that normal
- If you experience bleeding between periods (spotting is a sign of pregnancy)
- Feel that you may be pregnant.
Supplement that could Help
While there is not a supplement that is the cure all end all, there are some that can help. This supplement could help make your menstrual cramps more bearable. Fem Support by Zen Supplements is an all natural herbal blend that can help ease your menstrual cramps, help restore normal menstrual cycles, help with PMS symptoms, AND contains anti-inflammatory properties that support uterine health.
Ingredients include Vitamin D, E, B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, Black cohosh, Red clover, Soy bean extract, Dong Quai, Chasteberry, and Licorice Root Powder.