Phases of the menstrual Cycle – 1. The Follicular phase.

Colourful carton with menstrual cup and sanitary napkin.

Did you know that the first day of your period is also Day 1 of your menstrual cycle? The first phase of your menstrual cycle is the Follicular phase, and it begins with your period. There are many reasons why you should get to know your cycle better. not just so that you can predict your period but so that you have a better understanding of what to expect during the different phases of your menstrual cycle – the good the bad and the plain ugly!

A period can last between 2 to 7 days although bleeding is usually heaviest during the first 2 days. You may have a variety of symptoms including cramps, bloating, tender breasts and lower back pain. Symptoms can vary with each monthly period, some periods cause little or no discomfort, while others may be more painful. Avoiding certain foods can help against bloating and water retention. If you think bloating might be making your period cramps worse then try cutting out fatty foods, caffeine, salty food, alcohol and fizzy drinks for a couple of days.

While bleeding occurs at the beginning of this phase your ovaries are, at the same time, preparing to ovulate again. The pituitary gland releases a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which causes several follicles, each containing a single immature egg, to rise on the surface of the ovary. One of these follicles will develop and release an egg. The maturing follicle produces oestrogen which increases during the follicular phase and peaks shortly before ovulation. The menstrual flow has now finished, and the lining of the womb becomes thicker in preparation for a possible pregnancy.

Towards the end of the folicular phase you are your most fertile - and it shows! Mother Nature is making you look more attractive! This is your “Feeling Fabulous” time of the month so get out there and show the world just how amazing you are.

Week one of your cycle

Oestrogen levels are low at the beginning of your cycle, this in combination with your period can make you tired, achy and cranky. This is the week of your period so keep a hot water bottle and over the counter pain meds nearby if you suffer from cramps and pain. Towards the end of the week your oestrogen levels are rising which will improve your mood and physical strength.

Week two of your cycle

As oestrogen levels rise in week 2 your mood should improve along with your energy levels, making you more sociable and happier. You are energetic, confident and feeling strong. Not only do you feel more attractive - you look it too, subtle shifts in tissue making your face more symmetrical. Studies have shown that the higher levels of oestrogen in the first half of the menstrual cycle improve spatial awareness, imagination, memory and social skills. Use this information to your advantage! Another good tip is that high estrogen levels are also said to trigger pain masking endorphins in the brain, making this a good time to visit the dentist or get your legs waxed. Your testosterone levels are also up this week which makes you more competitive and daring. As you are approaching ovulation your libido is increasing and when your testosterone levels spike, so too does your libido. That is information that your partner almost certainly wants to hear! On the downside, high oestrogen can also sometimes lead to anxiety and stress – be prepared; plan some mindfulness, sport, or whatever you do to chill out.

During the follicular phase higher levels of oestrogen cause the basal body temperature to fluctuate within a lower range. The second phase of your menstrual cycle begins at ovulation and is called the luteal phase, during this phase the higher levels of progesterone cause the basal body temperature to fluctuate within a higher range. The temperature method of ovulation detection uses this minute rise in body temperature to identify ovulation. It is this tiny rise in temperature that femSense can detect and therefore measure and confirm ovulation.