Menstrual cycle

The endocrine system is an intricate and complex combination of glands secreting a specific set of hormones which have an impact on the whole body.

 

If your hormones are not balanced well in the body, there will be some serious issues you may have to face!

 

It is quite obvious in women. We all know how drastic the changes in women who are close to their moon cycle are (I heard of men penciling down the dates in a calendar, as a note to self for the so called “no” days of their relevant halves). What causes that obvious shift in the mood, skin features, body changes and more to it, is the rather relevant revolution of the level of hormones in a woman’s system.

 

Let’s talk about this specific case.

 

The menstrual cycle is divided into 4 phases:

 

1.    Follicular phase

The ovaries are getting ready for the ripening of an egg (this is the phase between menstruation and ovulation)

During this specific moment the pituitary releases a specific hormone called the follicle stimulating hormone or FSH. This hormone stimulates the follicle (which contains an egg) to mature. Also luteinizing hormone or LH is released and it is responsible for ovulation.

At the beginning of this phase estrogen and progesterone are typically low. They will rise as the phase proceeds and will have the effect of boosting the mood and energy level and brain skills.

Estrogen makes the skin look beautiful, suppresses appetite, boost extroversion.

As this phase approaches the beginning of the next one, the lining of the uterus thickens, cervical liquid is being produced and it’s the most fertile moment for women.

 

2.    Ovulatory phase 

This is a rather short phase as it lasts for roughly 2/3 days. Thanks to the LH the dominant follicle will burst open and will release the egg into the fallopian tube. There are roughly 12 to 24 hours for the egg to be fertilized or it will disintegrate. A very interesting fact about this specific moment is that the cervix moves up higher so that only the best sperm can reach the egg as it will have to swim higher. The cervical fluid is fertile during this moment. Healthy fluid is needed to protect the sperm from the naturally occurring acid environment in the vagina.

Levels of estrogen and testosterone are peak high during this phase. Self-confidence and sex drive is generally high during this time thanks to the levels of these hormones. It is a good time to perform high energy activities.

 

3.    Luteal phase

This is the phase that occurs if the egg doesn’t get fertilized, therefore the body needs to prepare to release it. This phase last for about 12-16 days. FSH and LH levels will drop. So do estrogen and testosterone. (estrogen will reappear at the end of this phase). The follicle that released the egg will transform into the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland that produces progesterone. It’s a hormone which produces heat, making the basal temperature of the woman rise. This is a typically infertile moment as the cervical fluid has a consistency which should prevent the sperm to reach the egg. Emotionally the woman will still feel quite energized at the beginning but will slowly wind down due to the effect of the rise of progesterone. Progesterone is naturally a sleep aid and antianxiety hormone. During the second week of this phase estrogen will rise slightly to drop again together with progesterone causing the uterus lining to shed leading to the next phase. This is the moment where PMS symptoms become quite obvious.

 

4.    Bleeding phase

This phase lasts 2 to 7 days. This is the lowest point of the woman. They may feel tired, withdrawn, introvert, and the energy will be at the lowest point.

This is a great moment for downtime. Yoga is still a great option here as it helps to reduce bloating, boost energy level and relieve cramps. Remember to avoid all the inversions during “those days” as the blood would flow back in the system. Energetically speaking bleeding is a downward flow, therefore the asanas chosen should follow the same “path”. Moreover, inversions require quite a bit of energy and this is the moment of the month when the woman feels less energetic.

Nevertheless, there are some who feel that their energy level are quite high making it somehow a personal choice. As a rule of thumb inversion should be held for a short time and women should enjoy the practice of more relaxing practices. Pranayama and meditation are excellent ways to cruise through this time. Best poses are twists, chest openers and legs up the wall. 

 

I also love to use essential oils to help me navigate through tough times. Lavender is an excellent oil. It has calming, relaxing, and balancing properties. It works as an analgesic, anticonvulsant and relaxant oil. It has many more property and is one of the safest oils to use.

 

 

Chiara G. May 2

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