luteal phase

The luteal phase - the 3rd phase of the menstrual cycle

Ovulation is followed by the luteal phase, during which the body prepares for either pregnancy or a period. The luteal phase usually lasts 14 days and varies less in length than the follicular phase (the phase before ovulation).

After the follicle has released its egg during ovulation, it changes and becomes the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum produces hormones, mainly progesterone and some oestrogen. After ovulation, the oestrogen level drops and the progesterone level rises. If an egg is fertilised, the progesterone level continues to rise. If no egg is fertilised, the progesterone level drops, the uterine lining falls off and leaves the body with the period.

Towards the end of the luteal phase, women can experience a variety of signs and symptoms, such as sensitive or lumpy breasts, water retention, cravings, bloating, mood swings, irritability and depression. It is estimated that 3 out of 4 women experience such symptoms.

Week 3 of the cycle: Hello luteal phase!

After ovulation, oestrogen levels fall and progesterone levels rise. This drop in oestrogen can lead to irritability and tiredness, although it is only a temporary drop and these feelings should only last for a few days. The rise in progesterone levels, on the other hand, can make you feel listless, calm and perhaps a little emotional. During this phase of your cycle, your body is preparing for a possible pregnancy before (you are between ovulation and menstruation) and want to eat for two. You are hungry and crave high-calorie foods.

If you don't eat regularly, your blood sugar levels can drop - another funny symptom of increased progesterone levels - and you become cranky and exhausted. On the plus side, the combination of oestrogen and progesterone means you'll burn more calories during exercise - a good time to lace up your trainers. Although your Libido you may feel more affectionate and emotionally closer to your partner. Plan romantic films and cuddles on the couch.

Week 4 of the cycle

Oestrogen levels drop and so does your mood. If you suffer from PMS (premenstrual syndrome), this is the time of the month when you should look out for the familiar symptoms. Not all women suffer from PMS, and it can be influenced by lifestyle and diet. For some women the symptoms only occur occasionally, for others they are very mild.

One of the great advantages of cycle monitoring is that you can recognise these symptoms and patterns in the luteal phase and are therefore better prepared to deal with them. The combination of falling oestrogen levels and relatively stable progesterone levels leads to cravings - an attempt to increase the levels of the 'happy hormones' (serotonin) again. Fortunately, the same combination of hormones in the days before menstruation increases our ability to burn fat during exercise.

Have you ever found yourself feeling anxious or really sad sometimes for no apparent reason? Maybe you're at the end of your luteal phase and suffering from the symptoms of PMS. Mood swings, food cravings or fatigue suddenly make sense when it becomes clear that these could be symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

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lutealphase-woman-yoga

Moments of anxiety or sad days are less scary when they are PMS symptoms and you know that they will soon disappear once your luteal phase is over. Your menstrual cycle is more than just your period, and cycle monitoring is more than just preparing for your period. Your menstrual cycle is a daily hormonal fluctuation that affects you both physically and mentally. The hormones fluctuate in the different phases of your cycle and this has a direct impact on you, both mentally and physically. It's worth getting to know and understand your menstrual cycle - knowledge is power and femSense can give you that power!

Sources:

Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle (2023)

My Hormonology (2023)

Gorvett (2023), How the menstrual cycle changes women's brains - for better

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