In this video, Dr Natalie Brown explains the different phases of the menstrual cycle and the symptoms associated with them.
You can find the transcript of the video below.
Hi, everyone. I'm Natalie Brown. I'm going to talk around phases of the menstrual cycle.Hopefully, by discussing the different phases and breaking down what symptoms you might experience across the menstrual cycle, it might help you
- understand your body
- being able to work with it
- benefit from making some changes and thinking
- understanding what different symptoms you experience at different times.
So to get started or menstrual cycle can be broken down broken down into four different phases and they are characterized by two different hormones estrogen, which is the blue line, and progesterone, which is the red line.
If we go through the whole cycle, it starts off with day one, which is the first day of bleeding, first day of menstruation, or a period, as we most commonly call it.
During this phase, both hormones are at the lowest. We then move into phase two, the late follicular phase.
This is characterized by a peak in estrogen and that happens prior to ovulation. After ovulation, we go into phase three, or the mid luteal phase.
Within this phase, there's a second peak in estrogen, but also a peak in progesterone. If fertilization or pregnancy doesn't occur, we then move into the late luteal phase, the pre-metstrual phase, where both estrogen and progesterone rapidly decline before returning to day one of the metro cycle, which again will be day one of bleed.
On this diagram, I've got a typical 28 day textbook menstrual cycle with ovulation at day 14. A normal range can be from 21 to 35 days, with ovulation occurring approximately halfway through the cycle.
There are many symptoms that are related to the menstrual cycle, the most common being abdominal pain or cramping.
Some people might experience just one symptom on all of these on the screen.
Others, you might experience the majority of these symptoms alongside the most common like cramping, bloating, fatigue and tiredness, gastrointestinal disturbance, irritability or, feeling agitated, reduced motivation and trouble sleeping are some of the most common symptoms that are experienced in relation to the menstrual cycle.
Now, if we look where they might occur across the cycle, we've got the phase one early follicular phase where we've got the period. So the most common symptom here are abdominal cramping and also bleeding. Some people might experience really heavy bleeding and some might experience really severe abdominal cramps.
However, if those symptoms are too severe to allow you to do your day to day activities that isn't normal. We always suggest going to seek medical advice if they are that severe that you're not able to get on and complete your day to day activities.
When we then move into the next phase, this late follicular phase, this is a really, really positive phase. So we normally associate having symptoms as being negative.
Within the late follicular phase, this is a time where we might feel more confident, have lots more energy, happy to take risks or maybe a challenge, receive constructive feedback, really positively, have a lot of clarity and a lot of focus.
So really utilize this time to make the most of that time within your menstrual cycle to try something new, train really hard, push, receive feedback, have a difficult conversation. There's lots that could be really beneficial to achieve within that phase.
Some people around Ovulation have a dip in how they feel, maybe with a lower energy, feeling a bit tired, whereas others don't see any changes. That's just something to be aware of.
When you then move into the mid luteal phase, you have this peak in progesterone and that can cause different symptoms that can be associated with feeling bloated, feeling more clumsy, having reduced motivation. Sometimes you start having food cravings around this time, and that's mainly associated with the shift in utilization of fuels that we have, especially when we're talking about exercise.
So if we think specifically around exercise, if you want to do high intensity training or any sort of short, sharp burst of exercise, we're predominantly in this phase using fat as fuel. But that means you haven't got an immediate energy source, so that can sometimes make you feel a bit more, lethargic make it harder to get going, feeling like those high intensity sessions are harder to hit when it comes to training.
When we then go into the late Luteal phase, that also continues to be the same regarding fueling, feeling lethargic, having lower energy levels, but also it's a time where maybe changes in mood, feeling more irritable, feeling maybe sick or nauseous. It's also really common to be more anxious or be more worried.
A lot of more negative symptoms that we associate are within this pre menstrual phase, and that's the result of this rapid decline in hormone levels that occurs regardless of what symptoms you experience.
One of the key things I would highlight to start off with is tracking your menstrual cycle. So obviously these symptoms, as I said, you might experience one symptom, you might experience several symptoms.
The first starting point is to track your cycle and using Elara that will help you to navigate those different stages of your cycle and give you recommendations for each day and phase that you can check in with.
But also by using and tracking your cycle, it can provide more information so you really understand your body. And by understanding your body, you can start working with it rather than against it or fighting the negative symptoms of the menstrual cycle.
So first of all, start tracking your menstrual cycle, start understanding what symptoms you experience at different phases. And that means we'll be able to start understanding what your menstrual cycle looks like for you, because everybody is unique and everyone will have their own experience of the menstrual cycle. And as a result of that, you can start working with your cycle rather than against it.
Finding the positives and the benefits of working in association with those changes in hormone levels rather than not feeling 100%, fighting against frustrations or not being able to think clearly. All of those things can help you resolve by understanding your cycle, understanding your body and working within it.