There probably isn’t any cycle that has caused as much anguish as the menstrual cycle. Every woman has to live with it and men can’t wrap their heads around it. Let’s take a 30-day journey from the ovaries to the uterus to understand how to make the best of this inevitable cycle.
Note: You Are Your Own Norm
Menstrual cycles vary from person to person so don’t worry if any of the descriptions do not fit how you usually experience it. The average cycle ranges between 21-35 days but can vary especially if you are on birth control pills or IUDs. Menstruation itself is also different from person to person. it can be heavy and painful and painfully long on one end of the spectrum and on the other end, there are also some who barely experience much discomfort. So the best way to judge is really up against your own menstrual norms.
Menstrual Cycle: The Invisible 30 day Roller Coaster
Menstruation aka Goodbye Unused Egg
Menstruation marks the start of the menstrual cycle and your body kicks it off with a bloody bang. The first two days are usually when bleeding is heaviest.
Duration: 3-8 days
What’s your body doing: Ridding you of your unfertilized egg and thickened uterus lining because the only thing your body is pregnant with is a disappointment.
How you probably feel: Why did your ovaries suddenly turn into grenades. Sentient zombie grenades hell-bent on ruining your day.
Fertility Chance: Don’t even try.
Follicular Phase aka Let’s Make an Egg
The first half of the menstrual cycle ranges from the first day of menstruation all the way to just before ovulation (where your egg is released). After menstruation, your body is already raring to go and is making the next egg happen.
Duration: About 13 days
What’s your body doing: Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is released to cause follicles to surface on your ovaries. Think of each follicle like a reality show contestant, in the end one wins the contest and becomes THE egg. If we have more than one winner, get ready for twins and triplets!
Your uterus lining also starts to thicken after menstruation to get ready to welcome the new egg.
How you probably feel: After menstruation hell, rising optimism and energy levels take over as you move towards the end of your Follicular Phase. Take advantage of this to hit the gym and achieve your personal goals!
Fertility Chance: A good chance towards the end of this phase!
Ovulation – Release the Egg
Usually happens around the midpoint of the menstrual cycle, ovulation is when the egg is finally released from the ovaries. It now has to journey through the fallopian tube to the uterus.
Duration: 1 Day (usually Day 14)
What’s your body doing: Your egg is looking to get fertilized and that could happen if there are sperms swimming around the fallopian tube. If no one’s good enough or if there isn’t any around, your egg gives up and disintegrates after 24 hours.
How you feel: Your sexual drive is at its peak as your egg really wants a sperm companion.
Fertility Chance: Yes!
Luteal Phase – Self-destruct in 5,4,3…
This is the phase after ovulation all the way to just before menstruation. It really depends on whether your egg hit the fertilization jackpot. If your egg remains unfertilized, get ready for a downhill spiral towards menstruation hell.
What’s your body doing: If a fertilized egg successfully nestles itself onto the uterine wall, your body keeps everything intact. But if after half a month of preparation and thickening of the uterine walls, the fertilized egg is a no-show, your body throws a tantrum and starts shedding the thickened lining.
How you probably feel: If your body is moving towards menstruation, you’re likely to be more moody and irritable. Anyone would if their body is throwing a self-destructive fit from the inside.
However, healthy habits like getting enough sleep, eating healthily and avoiding alcohol can make this phase more bearable.
Fertility Chance: Nope
It’s safe to say, most women dread menstruation and most men dread offending women during menstruation. However, at the end of the day, it’s a part of the human experience and essential to childbirth. Be it male or female, it is still important to understand the menstrual cycle to make the best out of your month.