The great guide to the menstrual cycle without taboos
Louloucup offers you to answer all your questions without taboo and as simply as possible! Because yes, the female body goes through a complex process every month governed by hormones: the menstrual cycle!
How does a menstrual cycle work? 🩸
The menstrual cycle is a well-honed process that takes place in the female body. It starts at the puberty, when the adolescent has her first period and is therefore fertile. This hormonal phenomenon et cyclic ends at the menopause when the woman ceases to menstruate. The menstrual cycle is decisive for procreation. It allows the woman's body to prepare for potential fertilization. Relentlessly, he again and again prepares the uterus for the reception of a sperm. If the egg is not fertilized (contraception or absence of sexual intercourse), then the egg is destroyed and a new cycle starts again.
Let's go back to the basics:
A menstrual cycle lasts on average 28 days. This is a large average, since in reality very few women have such precise rules every month! Rather, we are talking about a niche between 21 and 45 days for menstrual cycles.
This cycle of 28 days on average is divided into three phases: the follicular phase (from day 1 to day 14) includes bleeding (period or menstruation) + 7 to 8 days when the endometrium prepares for potential fertilization, ovulatory phase (around day 14) is the key moment in the cycle when the woman has the best chance of getting pregnant, and finally the luteal phase (from day 15 to day 28) which stretches from ovulation until the day before the next period. This last phase is often linked to Premenstrual Syndrome
Small reminder: the first day of the cycle corresponds to the first day of menstruation and therefore the last day turns out to be the day before the next menstruation! You follow ?
Bleeding lasts on average between 2 to 5 days, even 7 days.
What are the hormones that affect the menstrual cycle?
Menstruation is regulated in particular by hormones present in the brain. They are the ones who send the different messages that trigger the bleeding, period symptoms, But also premenstrual symptoms.
Before going any further, a little glossary:
The ovarian follicles are kinds of "bags" that appear during menstruation in the ovary thanks to FSH. Each follicle contains an oocyte or ovum. Only one ovarian follicle matures. This elected official, named the Graafian follicle then releases the egg. This is the time of ovulation in the menstrual cycle. As you will have understood, the follicles are essential in the process of procreation.
The yellow body is the result of the mature follicle bursting to release the egg at the time of ovulation. Even emptied, it still holds an important role. It secretes essential progesterone both for the implantation of the egg in the uterine cavity if there is fertilization and for the triggering of the next period if there has been no fertilization.
FSH and LH
During menstruation, a gland, thepituitary gland, located in the skull, at the level of thehypothalamus create it FSH, the follicle-stimulating hormone. As its name suggests, FSH is follicle stimulating hormone. The FSH's mission at each cycle is to increase the follicles in the ovary. Each follicle contains an egg. One follicle will become dominant and only one egg will mature. The other created follicles disappear.
luteinizing hormone or LH is also produced by the brain. Its role is to release the egg.
Estrogen and progesterone
Fullerenes estrogen and progesterone are female sex hormones. While estrogen is created by follicles in the ovaries, progesterone is created by the yellow body. The corpus luteum is what remains of the follicle after ovulation. What are these hormones for during the menstrual cycle? These two hormones act on the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus or lining of the uterus in order to receive the fertilized egg.
The 3 phases of the menstrual cycle
The follicular phase (day 1 to 14)
The follicular phase can be divided into two moments of the cycle. The time of menstruation, a period of between 2 and 5 days (always on average) of blood loss. This is followed by a period of several days (9 to 12 days, depending on the length of the period) where the uterine cavity thickens and prepares for potential fertilization. While FSH wakes up the follicles in the ovary, estrogen prepares the uterus.
Focus on her menstrual flowThe menstrual flow represents the intensity of the periods. Remember, every woman is different, so every menstrual flow is different. Colour, duration, intensity, texture, pain, etc. When we talk about “normal” menstrual flow, we are particularly talking about the flow that we have once our menstrual cycle is established and stable. To give an idea, his menstrual flow represents on average between 2 to 5 tablespoons of blood, or between 30 to 70 mL of blood per cycle.
We therefore generally speak of:
Light flow: 30 mL/cycle
Medium flow: 30 to 50 mL/cycle
Abundant flow: 50 to 70 mL/cycle
Very abundant flow, even hemorrhagic: more than 70 mL
These are the benchmarks we use to determine the perfect cut and composition for her period panties.
It is completely normal to have the sensation of losing more blood. It is for this reason that the use of the menstrual cup is a perfect tool to determine the menstrual flow and realize the amount of blood that is lost during a cycle.
It is often more abundant the first two days of menstruation, with very red blood. Little by little, the color of the blood evolves to give way to more pink, brown, even black blood, because the bleeding is lighter.
In the same way, the menstrual flow can be more liquid, with clots or more viscous depending on the woman, but also depending on the moment of her cycle.
???? These alterations are completely normal, since many elements can interfere with the menstrual flow. :
- The stress,
- Some medications...
Contraceptives hormones will tend to reduce the intensity of menstruation when, on the contrary, the copper IUD will tend to make them more abundant and more liquid.
So don't panic: it's normal! :)
Menstrual flow glossary 📖
we speak of a very abundant, even haemorrhagic flow when the period lasts more than a week and it is necessary to change sanitary protection every hour, for several consecutive hours. If you think you are prone to hemorrhagic flows, it is advisable to consult a professional to invalidate certain disorders.
it is about the absence of rules. This case can be caused by eating disorders, intensive sport, certain medications or certain diseases such as polycystic ovaries, thyroid problems, etc.
this is the term for light periods (less than 30 mL/cycle)
not to be confused with oligomenorrhea, as spotting occurs as bleeding between periods, signifying a hormonal imbalance.
The ovulatory phase
The mature follicle has released the egg marking the end of the follicular phase. This is the starting signal for theovulation. For its part, thanks to estrogen and progesterone, the uterus is also ready. The uterine lining is thick enough for the embryo to cling to. All the lights are green for fertilization. The egg then takes about 24 hours to make its way between the ovary and the fallopian tube.
If the meeting takes place with a sperm then fertilization has a good chance of succeeding. If the meeting between sperm and ovum does not take place, the ovum continues its journey to the uterus to be dissolved there.
Physically, the ovulatory phase or period of ovulation manifests itself as follows:
- by the appearance of cervical mucus. Why ? Because in order to accommodate the sperm, the cervix has opened slightly. Cervical mucus is essential for easier passage of sperm into the uterus. So don't panic, it's completely natural to observe vaginal discharge ou White discharge at the time of ovulation. Moreover, its texture and intensity evolve over the course of the cycle.
- by a rise of basal temperature (temperature on waking). Body temperature rises slightly to allow sperm to survive longer.
The Luteal Phase (Day 14 to 28 or more)
After ovulation, the menstrual cycle enters its last phase, the luteal period. The female body awaits fertilization and prepares itself. the yellow body, left behind by the mature follicle that produces progesterone again and again to prepare the endometrium. When visibly, the fertilized egg of a spermatozoon does not appear, the yellow body dies bringing with it a drop in progesterone and the signal to evacuate the endometrium. A new cycle can then begin.
It is during the luteal phase that we observe the SPM ou Premenstrual syndrome.
All about PMS 💫
A few days before your period, do you have easy tears? Are you very irritated or do you lack patience? Are you particularly swollen in the belly or chest? Are you on edge, very sad, apathetic or even depressed? Then you know premenstrual syndrome !
Premenstrual syndrome affects many menstruating women. These are physical and psychological manifestations that occur on the second part of the menstrual cycle. PMS is simply due to variation and fluctuating hormones. Nothing bad in itself, nor worrying even if in some cases the PMS can be more important and disabling. We then speak of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
The symptoms are many and varied:
irritability, anger and bad mood,
panic or anxiety attacks,
a depressing mood or a gloomy mood,
exacerbated sensitivity with crying attacks,
severe fatigue or even lethargy,
Also note that it is not surprising to notice a slight ephemeral weight gain, difficulty concentrating, but also insomnia.
If you are prone to some of these symptoms, try to limit foods that are too high in sugar and coffee. Focus on physical activity that you enjoy. It will occupy your mind, relax you and above all generate endorphins (hormone allowing to drive out the stress).
These symptoms are not all easy to bear. It is important to listen to each other, to get to know each other, but also not to panic. This is why it is essential to know your cycle and know how to calculate it. Hold a PMS log for at least two cycles can help some pinpoint symptoms.
Do you suffer a lot from premenstrual symptoms? Do not hesitate to share your experience with your attending physician, your midwife or even your gynecologist. These health professionals are present and competent to answer all your questions and offer you various solutions. Don't forget, from puberty, a gynecological follow-up regular is essential to ensure your good health.
The different disorders of the cycle
For many reasons, a menstrual cycle can be disturbed or disrupted. If you don't have to worry, you also have to learn to trust your body. It is very common for a cycle to get out of order due to a specific medical treatment or illness. Periods may then arrive late. It is neither dangerous nor serious.
Turnkey functional ovarian cysts sometimes come to play the spoilsports. For example, the mature follicle (the De Graafian follicle) that is to release the egg may not rupture on the expected date. In this case it is a follicular cyst. Without gravity, this type of cyst upsets the order of the cycle and is painful. It resolves on its own during subsequent periods. In this specific case, as the episode is quite uncomfortable, a visit to the gynecologist is not a luxury. He can conduct an ultrasound to make sure of the phenomenon and also prescribe painkillers for a few days.
It is completely normal to experience different cycles at any point. Not all of them will be of the same duration. Various factors impact a cycle: the stress, for an psychological shock, the significant weight loss, the practice of a sport at a high level, etc. The establishment of a contraception disturbs for a few cycles the regularity hitherto known. No worries. Everything should be back to normal pretty quickly.
When should you worry? When you are in pain, when your cycles are really very irregular, very shortened or very lengthened, when you feel significant symptoms. In short, listen to your body. Above all, do not hesitate to seek advice from a doctor in case of doubt or pain.
How to relieve menstrual pain? 💫
Coming back to menstruation, it seems important to talk about the subject that touches us all at least once: menstrual pain. All women experience at least once, if not more, more difficult cycles with painful periods.
These periods that are less easy to bear occur when the uterus contracts in order to eliminate the uterine lining. These pains, like cramps, diffuse into the pelvis, back, stomach and even the thighs.
The intensity varies from one woman to another, being able to go, for some, to the vomiting. Others will no longer have any energy. Still others will find it difficult to stand up and prefer to stay in bed.
To relieve menstrual pain, here are some tips that will help some:
Do a physical activity or sport, even walking. It may not be obvious at first, but a little exercise session can really be beneficial. Indeed, with stimulated blood circulation and better oxygen levels, endorphins will spread faster throughout your body. Feeling of well-being guaranteed!
Relax the muscles with massages and different sources of heat. A good hot bath and a good hot water bottle can be of great help. We don't skimp on hot drinks either and we especially slow down the general pace (without guilt)!
With all this information, that's enough to feel more comfortable with your menstrual cycle. Again, we are all different and therefore normality when it comes to periods does not exist! The objective is above all to get to know each other, to feel guilty and to have fun while wearing our beautiful menstrual panties or by adopting our menstrual cup ! Because being well equipped to face your rules is essential!