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Today Jaelin talks about Aunt Flo – your menstrual cycle, and breaks down the phases of it. (It’s more than just your period!)

Points from the video:

There are two phases to our menstrual cycles, the follicular stage and the luteal phase.

Follicular Phase

Day 1 is the beginning of this phase and starts on the first day of your cycle. This the shedding of the endometrium (uterine inner lining)

Day 3 Increase in Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). The endometrium begins to build again.

Day 9-13(approximately) estradiol begins to raise and peaking by day 13. The rise in estradiol signals the brain to release LH and FSH to stimulate ovulation. This is the time when estrogen increases the most. The surges in LH and FSH are what cause hot flashes during your cycle.

Luteal Phase

Day 14 (approximately) Ovulation the sack (aka corpus luteum) the egg was in goes on to produce progesterone whose main function here is to maintain a pregnancy. Estrogen drops dramatically.

Day 15-16 Estrogen drops, and progesterone is starting to increase more dramatically

Day 21 Progesterone Peaks and estrogen rises for a tiny spike. The endometrium has reached it’s peak of growth. (That heavy feeling)

Day 24-25 Progesterone is dropping and will continue to drop if no pregnancy occurs. Estrogen decreases as well. When progesterone levels drop to certain level, this initiates menses and clearing of the uterine lining (aka your period).

Estrogen is what I call our exciting hormone or our “get up and go” hormone. It tends to make people more creative, excited and happy. Progesterone is what I call our “everything’s ok” hormone. It tends to calm and relax us. It calms down the uterus and keeps a pregnancy going. When these two are out of balance, we don’t feel as well.

Questions Answered in the Video:

I ovulate multiple times a month. My cycles usually are every 34-37 days and bleeding part last 5-7 days. What could cause the multiple ovulations a month?

How long does it take for your cycle to regulate once you get your first postpartum period and while you’re still breastfeeding?

How does stress affect our periods?

Does ovulation always happen right after you finish bleeding if your cycle is longer?

What labs would show your hormone levels?

Can you get pregnant while breast feeding?

Fun Facts

Only 1 in 8-9 women have a 28-day cycle. Normal cycles vary from 20 days to 40 days. If your cycle is out of the 40 day range, you may need to visit your local healthcare practitioner because your hormones may be off balance. Irregular cycles are normal for teenage girls. They typically don’t ovulate the first year to 18 months after menarche. Don’t count on this for birth control though. There is always an exception to the rule.

It is not normal to have cramping, PMS or PMDD. We only experience these things if our hormones are out of balance. Women typically release 20-80 mL of menstrual blood a month. Some even more, some less. (1 ½ tbs to ½ cup) Heavy cycles are releasing more than a cup of blood or needing to change a full pad or tampon every hour for more than 6 hours or bleeding longer than 7 days. If you are having these issues, please go talk to your midwife, or physician. Do be aware, though, that many physicians will try to put you on synthetic hormones or birth control, which can be dangerous.

A women’s sex drive increases with ovulation. Some women lose their sex drive, however, when using synthetic birth control.

A women is only fertile once a month for 12-24 consecutive hours. The human female egg is the largest cell in the human body. It is the only human cell that can be seen with the naked eye.

Elephants, Humpback whales, and humans are the only mammals that go through menopause.

Walt Disney in 1946 made a menstruation movie for sex education class, supposedly the first to use the word vaginal on screen.

Resources:

Menarche: Honoring the First Moon

Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 20th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health

Disney’s “The Story of Menstruation”

Reusable Charcoal Sanitary Pads (from our store!)

 

If you are in Houston and surrounding areas, check out hhhomebirth.com!


 

About the Author

Jaelin Stickels
Certified Nurse Midwife at | 281-296-3043 | jaelin@sheis.com | + posts

Jaelin married her high school sweetheart (Ted) in 1984 and is the proud mother of 3 grown children (2 boys & a girl). She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, a Master’s Degree from Georgetown and holds several other professional certifications related to health and wellness; currently, she is working on her Doctorate degree. Jaelin works as a Midwife and Nurse Practitioner with her business partner Andie Wyrick at Holistic Heritage Homebirth in the Woodlands Texas.