Q: What happens during my cycle?
There is a lot happening! Your hormones, reproductive organs, body and brain are doing a lot! Most women notice shifts in mood, emotions and energy levels throughout their cycle and there is a good reason for this! Here is a brief summary of the four phases of your menstrual cycle. Each phase can be looked at as having similar qualities to the four seasons, winter, spring, summer and autumn.
Phase one: Menstruation (Winter) (The first day you bleed, average days 1-8)
Your body is cleansing and releasing old tissue it no longer needs. When you menstruate, the lining of your uterus breaks up and passes through your vagina and exits your body. Your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are low. Your menstrual flow is a mixture of blood, mucus and cells. You will bleed on average three to six tablespoons of this mixture each month.
Phase two: Pre ovulation (Spring) (Right after you stop bleeding, average days 8-10)
Your body is preparing an egg for pregnancy. When your menstrual flow stop, your ovaries begin to prepare another egg to release into one of the fallopian tubes. The lows levels of estrogen and progesterone during menstruation have triggered the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) to mature a follicle, the fluid-filled sac in the ovary which contains the egg. Usually your right and left ovaries take turns to release eggs, the right ovary one month and the left ovary the next month.
Phase three: Ovulation (Summer) (Average days 10-20)
There is a lot happening while you ovulate. The egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tubes and your body prepares the uterus to receive a fertilized egg (if there is one). (This is the time when you are most fertile and are most likely to get pregnant if you are sexually active).
Estrogen levels increase which trigger a rise in Luteinizing Hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland, telling one ovary to release the mature egg (this process is called ovulation). The egg moves through the fallopian tube toward the uterus and the endometrium grows thicker with the hormone progesterone to prepare the body for the fertilized egg (if there is one through sexual intercourse). If the egg is not fertilized, your body knows that it does not need the 'nest' any longer and soon your menstrual cycle will begin again.
Phase four: Premenstrual: (Autumn) (Average days 20-28)
If a woman has not become pregnant, the uterus prepares to release the unneeded tissue that was prepared for the egg.
Your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels begin to drop. The uterus lining is no longer being stimulated, causing the shedding of the lining to begin and a new menstrual cycle begins.
Q: When will I start to bleed?
A: Some girls begin menstruation at age eight or nine, others may start at thirteen or fourteen, it depends on several factors. The average age a girl start to bleed is twelve to thirteen. If you notice signs of developing breasts, hair under your armpits and pubic hair, these are signs that you are likely to start your cycle soon! Ask your mother when she first got hers and what is what like for her. It is nice to do something to celebrate your special day! Perhaps enjoy a piece of chocolate or red velvet cake or eat red foods like cherries, pomegranate, red capsicum, tomatoes and strawberries.. You can also wear a special piece of jewelry if you’d like to only wear this when you bleed each month. Your period is a normal, healthy, positive and exciting part growing up and blossoming into a young woman!
Q: How long do I bleed for?
A: The length of time you menstruate is different for each woman, and you will not always bleed the exact same number of days each month. You will menstruate anywhere from three to eight days. The average number is four to five days. When you are beginning to bleed as a young woman, it is normal for your cycle to be irregular. Bleeding sometimes less and sometimes more, with shorter or longer cycles. Over your first few years of menstruation, your cycle should become more regular. It is also common for women to have somewhat irregular cycles.
Q: How often will I bleed?
A: Your cycle begins the first day you begin to menstruate (bleed). Your blood flow will come every 21-35 days. The average cycle lasts for 28-29 days. The first few years of your menstrual cycle, your body is changing..A LOT! As it is now ready and able to grow life inside if pregnant. It is normal that your cycle will be a bit irregular. If you are worried or have any concerns, talk to your mom or doctor, Please get in touch if you have any questions, comments or concerns.
Q: Why is it called menstruation or ‘moon time’?
A: Menstruation comes from the Greek root word 'men'', which means 'month,' and 'menus' which means moon and power, hence, this is special and powerful experience happening each month which is strongly connected with the moon. The lunar cycle lasts about 29 days and so does your menstrual cycle. Your period can also be referred to as your ‘moon time’. How cool is it that we bleed with the cycle of the moon?!
Q: Help! I'm having intense cramps! What will help ease my cramps?
A: Eating a well balanced diet and living a healthy, balanced lifestyle is important for a healthy cycle and your overall wellbeing. What you put into your body is likely to affect your menstrual cycle and cramps. If you are having cramps and pre menstrual symptoms, try to avoid fatty foods and processed sugar, caffeine, dairy and salt. Try eating more fresh organic vegetables, fruits, proteins and organic lean meats and whole grains, and be sure to drink plenty of clean water through out the day. Herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile, nettle, raspberry, licorice and rose hips can help soothe your cycle symptoms. If you crave chocolate, your body may actually be craving magnesium which is also found in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Often women can be low in Iron while on their ‘moon time’ and some choose to take an Iron supplement. Iron is also found in dark leafy greens and lean red meats.
I recommend having a session with a qualified Naturpath, Herbalist or holistic doctor before taking any supplements to see what vitamins and minerals your body may be needing more or less of.
Listen to your body! You may at times be in agony crouching over. Slow down and rest! Also, gentle exercise can help ease cramps. Exercise will increase your blood and oxygen circulation, healing cramps. Spend time in nature. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Do some restorative yoga or Pilates. Core strengthening exercises are known to help ease cramps.
Using a hot water bottle can also help. Fill the bag up with warm water and place it on your belly or low back. The heat will help soothe your menstrual cramps. Have a warm bath with Epsom salts and essential oils, such as lavender and clary sage.Getting acupuncture from a qualified Acupuncturist can also help ease menstrual symptoms.
Be sure to get enough rest and don't jam pack your day's schedule while you are menstruating. Read my blog on self care during your menstrual cycle. Take this special time each month to relax and do something kind and nurturing for yourself!
Q: What products do I need?
A: Different types of products are available these days, different than in ancient times when women would used parts of plants, leaves and sea sponges. You have choices and I say, go with whichever feels most comfortable for you. Many women choose cloth pads, which are super comfortable and easy, affordable, reusable so its helpful for the environment! You can choose your own style, or you and your friends can even make your own as a fun activity! They also now make underwear with inserted pads already in them! There are also Menstrual Cups, which are comfortable and easy to use. They are worn internally day and night and are and are also affordable and environmentally friendly! If you choose to wear tampons or pads, make sure that they are made from organic cotton, as most tampons and pads contain heavy chemicals that can create harmful bacteria in your vagina. Make sure to carry your products with you in a closed container or pouch so you have them on hand when in need!
Q: What are some good books and resources for more information about my Cycle?
A: Fortunately, there are many great books for menstruating women and young women who are interested to learn more about the powerful and beautiful feminine cycle. Check out my Resources page for some great ones!
If you have any questions or comments, get in touch!