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menstrual cycle phases

How do I know which phase of my menstrual cycle I’m in?

Welcome to the most valuable information you’ll ever have in your menstruating years… how to know which phase of your menstrual cycle you’re in.

You’re most likely on this page because you’ve just signed up to the FlowFit Challenge – WOOHOO!

And so I’m going to give you the answer you need quick smart, right now, and then if you’d like to do some further reading (which I highly suggest since you’re here to learn), read on 🙂

menstrual cycles
This image explains what I consider ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ according to your current cycle length. NOTE: Anything OTHER than 3-5 weeks is considered ‘irregular’.

If you bleed once a month or thereabouts: you’re regular.

If you either bleed non-stop, don’t bleed at all, or bleed a little at random times (known as “spotting”): you’re irregular (i.e. a surefire way to know you have hormonal imbalance).

To be irregular, in terms of time, you tend to bleed less than every 3 weeks OR more than every 5 weeks. 

For me, at the peak of PCOS, I would bleed 2-3 times a year!!

If your period is irregular
  • Start with 1st half meals and plans (do that for 2 weeks)
  • Switch to 2nd half meals and plans (do that for 2 weeks)
  • Switch back to 1st half meals and plans (do that for 2 weeks)

Don’t stress – you will still be optimising progesterone production even though you’re mostly going to be training/eating for your 1st half in this Challenge.

If your period is regular
  • Start with the plans that match whichever half you’re in (more info on that in this ep)
  • When you ovulate OR start your period you’ll know you’ll switch halves in roughly 3 days time.

So let’s Dee Dive on the phases and how they fit into the halves now.

First of all I’m going to tell you about The 4 Phases, then I’m going to make it even more simple(in the Let’s Simplify section), so you’ll never be confused again!

The 4 Phases of your menstrual cycle

Let’s start with the phase we all know and love.

The Menstrual Phase
I.e. “Menstruation”/”Aunt Flow”/”Rags”/”That Time Of The Month”

If you’re regular, this phase lasts 3-5 days.

If you’re irregular (hormonally imbalanced), this phase might almost never end, almost never arrive or surprise you randomly (ahhh the joy).

Women often mistakenly refer to their full menstrual cycle as ‘their period’, but actually your period is the 3-5 days or so when you bleed.

The rest of the time, you’re in 1 of 3 other phases.

The first day you bleed is known as Day 1 of your cycle.

It marks the start of a new cycle.

This doesn’t include lighter spotting the day prior to the start of a full bleed.

How many days should a cycle be?

A hormonally balanced cycle will be 21 – 35 days long (3-5 weeks).

What’s happening during this phase?
  • All your hormones drop to their lowest concentrations.
  • You shed the tissue (called endometrium) you’ve made throughout the previous cycle.
  • Your skin isn’t as glowy as usual and maybe dehydrated, so drink lots of water, use your collagen powders and eat your omega 3s.
  • Sugars also make us susceptible to acne and pimples.
The Follicular Phase
I.e “The Proliferative Phase”

This next part of your cycle is after bleeding and before you ovulate, when your energy starts to rise.

If you’re regular, it lasts roughly 10 days.

If you’re irregular (and therefore hormonally imbalanced), it’s anything over 2+ weeks.

What’s happening during this phase?
  • Hormones FSH and Oestrogen climb
  • Follicles grow and mature
  • A struggle to detox the oestrogen surges late in this phase could lead to breakouts
The Ovulatory Phase
I.e “The Main Event”

This phase is the 4 or so days around ovulation, and is arguably the most important puzzle piece for hormonal health.

Understanding when you ovulate, can give you:

Freedom from reliance on hormonal contraception to avoid pregnancy.

OR

Confidence and hope when trying to fall pregnant.

Fun fact #1: You are fertile all days of the ovulatory phase and, in fact, you are fertile every day that you experience fertile mucus + the 2 days after ovulating.

This mucus looks like egg whites and you might notice this extra wetness when you wipe or in your underwear.

Fun fact #2: It’s possible to complete a cycle and not ovulate.

This is called an anovulatory cycle.

What’s happening during this phase?
  • Hormones FSH, Oestrogen, LH, Testosterone peak
  • An egg is released from a follicle within one of the ovaries
  • Skin is normally the most glowy as it will be for the month
The Luteal Phase
I.e “The Secretory Phase”
What’s happening during this phase?
  • Hormones FSH, Oestrogen, LH, Testosterone peak
  • An egg is released from a follicle within one of the ovaries
  • Skin may be susceptible to breakouts and dullness due to an inability to detoxify oestrogen and let progesterone do it’s skin thang, so pick gentle active exfoliators like AHA to decongest pores.

Let’s simplify

1st half

This is the time after your period and goes until after you ovulate.

E.g. For a 30 day cycle: Day 3 – Day 18

  • Energy is generally higher
  • Mood is generally better
  • We perform better on higher protein and higher fat
  • We’re able to tackle more intense/heavier workouts
  • We’re more social and better at communicating
  • We can handle caffeine in our coffee better at this time
2nd half

This is after ovulation and goes until you finish your period bleed.

E.g. For a 30 day cycle: Day 19 – Day 2

  • Energy is generally lower
  • Mood is generally more reliant on food to stabilise us
  • We perform better on higher protein and low GI wholefood carbohydrates
  • We require more recovery days, slower flow workouts and lower intensities
  • We’re more introverted and better at self-reflection
  • We are more sensitive to caffeine

 

menstrual cycle phases
If you’re visual like me, here’s a visual example for someone with a 30 day cycle.

Is it as easy as lumping these two halves together, considering we have four (and maybe even five distinct hormonal phases)?

My answer: YES!

Because the treatment need only be split in two halves.

This is the method I have been using for over a decade now with amazing success.

I hope you can find some value here around when and why you’d implement different strategies and if you have any questions you can ask me here.

Dee
xx

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