Females can begin menstruating as early as 10 years of age and as late as 16 years old. The menstruation cycle is otherwise known as your period. This cycle is different for everyone but typically a woman's cycle is anywhere from 21 to 35 days. Understanding our body and what is going on during the different phases can be extremely beneficial as hormone levels change and physically we experience side effects. The difference between an informed woman and naive one and how they handle this process is as night and day. If we are self-aware and intentional, the effects this cycle has on our lives can be drastically limited.
In the first phase of the menstruation cycle, the uterus begins to shed its lining. This is when cramping, low energy and aches or pains occur. Followed by this four-to-seven day process, is the follicular phase. This happens immediately after the last day of your period and is where your body prepares for ovulation. A hormone called follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) begins doing its work stimulating the ovaries to produce a mature egg. Not only does it stimulate the production of a mature egg, but the egg-maturing process produces estrogen and that thickens the lining of your uterus walls. The walls of the uterus are filled with nutrients and blood providing support in the event pregnancy occurs. When the egg becomes fully matured, it is released into the fallopian tubes and travels to the uterus where it remains fertile for 12 to 24 hours. This is what we call ovulation and pregnancy becomes a large possibility if the egg comes in contact with sperm. The body produces higher amounts of estrogen in this phase and women can feel increased energy and a higher sex drive.
Once the egg has traveled into the womb, a new hormone begins to be made by the body called progesterone. This is the luteal phase and is the end of the cycle before it begins all over again. This progesterone hormone ensures the lining is continually built up on the uterus wall until the egg dies because it is not fertilized. The levels of estrogen and progesterone then stop or decrease and the nutrient-rich walls then begin to break down. When the hormones stop flooding due to the unfertilized egg, we can feel a sense of sadness, anxiousness and even moodiness. This part of the cycle is where PMS occurs most frequently.
Now, knowing the reasons behind the mood shifts of feeling energized then depleted or sad, we can start to be mindful of the stage our bodies are in. Just because a man may say he will never understand a woman, doesn't mean we don't have to understand ourselves. A small circumstance that seems to bring about explosive and unnecessary emotions could be linked to the phase of your current cycle. Maybe your body has stopped hormone production and although the incident was justifiably upsetting, your behavior was not.
So what do we do (and what do we cease doing)? We can avoid making life-altering decisions, inverted exercises, sugar consumption, caffeine intake, and fried foods that cause bloating during a luteal phase and begin providing our bodies with natural remedies to aid in the hard work it is doing to produce an egg. Focused exercise, increasing water intake, drinking herbal calming teas, and even applying certain essential oils can help ease the pains of menstruation.
Be mindful of this timeframe and simply add or remove what is needed to support your body during these transitions.