Our blog read time estimator tells us that this post will take you roughly 5 minutes to read, meaning that in 5 minutes time you could finally understand your menstrual cycle.
If you’re anything like we were, from the time you found out that periods were a thing you haven’t really understood exactly what happens every month. That’s ok. Aside from a brief birds and bees talk with your parents, or some awkward sex ed classes no one has probably ever really made an effort to explain it to you. It’s not one of those ‘talked about’ things.
We’d like to change that. After all, around 50% of the population has a period every month and for that to be taboo is honestly just effed up.
So here it is. A no fuss, no taboo guide to your cycle.
We’ll talk you through an average 28 day cycle, but of course you might not be ‘average’ and that’s totally cool. What’s normal for Susan might be abnormal for Felicia and vice versa. Generally, any cycle length between 21 - 35 days is considered normal.
Periods spaced longer than 35 days apart are considered irregular. There are all sorts of reasons for irregular periods that we won’t go into right now, but feel free to if you want to talk more about what this means for you.
There are four phases to your cycle, and each represents a change in the choreography that make up your hormonal balance. Each phase has a slightly different vibe, and once you tune into it you’ll start to notice distinct differences in your desires, energy levels and moods as you shimmy your way through the month.
Period & Start of Follicular Phase (Roughly Days 1 - 6)
Your cycle kicks off with a sweet release, letting go of your last cycle with the arrival of your period.
The start of your period is classed as your first day of real bleeding. Spotting doesn’t count. If it ain’t flowin’, your period ain’t yet showin’.
During your period you’ll generally notice that you feel a bit more introspective. The idea of Netflix and naps may feel much more appealing than intense workouts and wild parties. We don’t recommend starting a new fitness regime during your period. Focus more on walks, yoga or stretching and being gentle and loving with yourself.
These cosy feels are partly brought about due to your hormone levels dipping to allow for you to shed your uterine lining and menstruate. Our hormones help us to feel energetic, outgoing and motivated so it’s natural that when they drop away we might swing into a more introverted phase.
Follicular Phase (Roughly Days 6 - 13)
The follicular phase is generally a pretty sweet time.
Any PMS or period-related symptoms have melted away, our oestrogen and testosterone levels are on the rise giving us energy and vibrance, and life is good.
Oestrogen helps us to feel more outgoing, adventurous and positive; like we can take on the world. Whether it’s starting the project that’s been buzzing around your brain, going to a string of social events, or upping your weights at the gym, this is a great time to harness your oestrogen-fuelled outward energy to get shit done.
Exercise-wise, during the follicular phase our increased energy levels make this the time in your cycle when you might want to do a HIIT class or two. Your body is set up to be able to handle it well, and to thrive with the physical challenge.
Ovulation (Roughly Days 12 - 14)
With the release of one of your eggs from its follicle into a fallopian tube, it waits patiently for 12 to 24 hours for a good-looking sperm to wine and dine it.
If you want to get pregnant this is your window to get busy. If you’re not looking to create new life right now, this is the time to be extra careful.
Hormonally speaking, this is when oestrogen and testosterone are both at their peaks, causing you to feel more sexy, confident and Beyonce-like.
With your hormones at their peak, weight training is a great movement choice. You’ll want to opt for less intense cardio activities than you did during the follicular phase. Think less burpees and explosions, and more steady state cardio like brisk walking.
Luteal Phase (Roughly Days 15 - 28)
After all the excitement of the follicular and ovulatory phases, the luteal phase brings the mood back to chill.
Scientific research shows more activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, which is the area linked to intuitive knowing. This leads to more inward focused thinking and is therefore a great time to get in touch with yourself through journaling and meditation, or nesting at home; taking care of life admin, bingeing on Marie Kondo’s show and full on KonMari-ing your house.
As your oestrogen and testosterone levels start to ebb away during the luteal phase, they make way for progesterone to take the stage.
Progesterone is an anti-anxiety aid and is the chill pill of the hormone world, hence the more horizontal approach to life you’ll find yourself wanting to take.
Due to the hormonal changes during this time, the luteal phase is also when things can start getting interesting with PMS symptoms. PMS symptoms can be led by testosterone, oestrogen or progesterone levels being imbalanced, and each imbalances comes with its own set of signs in the body.
There is no real ‘normal’ when it comes to your menstrual cycle
We are all unique, and discovering the length of each phase of your cycle can tell you a lot about your hormone levels, energy and tendencies throughout the month. Knowing where you are in your cycle is a bit of a self-care cheat sheet, signalling exactly what kinds of activities are going to serve your body the best.
Tracking your cycle and testing your hormones is the best way to start getting to know yourself, and the silent drivers behind your life each month.
Looking for more information? Head over to our FAQ's page where you can find out about Eve, what the Eve Hormone Balance Test measures, when the best time to test your hormones is, and more.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. We are all unique. For your individual health concerns it is important to discuss these with a relevant health professional.