Periods, they are something the majority of young and middle-aged women have to go through about twelve times per year, they are something that we all hate with a passion, and weirdly, they are something that we are never quite sure we know enough about! You’d think that because you have them so regularly, you’d be an expert on periods by now, right? That’s not always the case, because let’s face it, the kind of education we get on women’s health and hygiene at school is less than thorough. Let’s work on making things as clear as possible for you. How long should your monthly cycle be? And what in particular should you know about it?
1. Follicular Phase
You cycle starts with the follicular stage. This is the time before you start ovulating. This can last between 7 and 10 days and helps to prepare your body for ovulation by raising your hormone level to tell your ovaries to release an egg.
So then we get to the actual ovulation itself. This is when the egg travels from your ovary to the fallopian tube where it waits to see if it is going to be fertilized or not. This means that it is the time of the month when you are most susceptible to getting pregnant. Your hormone levels continue to rise and your libido will probably increase.
3. Luteal Phase
This next phase comes when the egg knows it isn’t going to be fertilized, and what comes with it are all of the classic PMS symptoms that you will be more than familiar with. You will probably feel bloated, moody, and experience a touch of brain fog, plus you’ll want to indulge a little more in junk and comfort food.
And then we come to the final stage, menstruation. This is when you are actually on your period, bleeding from anything from 3 to 8 days depending on your own body. You will most likely experience some intense cramps for at least the first two days, but as the bleeding subsides, the period will become much more manageable.
Here are some things that can affect that length of your cycle:
If you don’t get enough regular sleep, then it can result in a significant hormone imbalance that messes with your cycle. Fatigue and stress will dampen the hormones that regulate the length of your cycle.
Too much strenuous working out can impair your body’s ability to perform a regular cycle. Any regime that leads to a lower than average body fat percentage like runners, swimmer and gymnasts will lead to cycle disruption.
The physical toll that comes along with extensive travelling can often disrupt a cycle. Going through different time zones, lack of sleep, etc. all these things can have an impact.
4. High Cortisol Levels
If you are under a lot of stress, your cortisol levels will rise. This can cause inflammation inside the body which will affect the presence of the hormones that are needed to make sure your cycle runs smoothly.