by Annabel McLaughlin and Geneviève Parent, Bloggers
Although present every month from puberty to menopause, menstruation remains unknown. The confusion floating around the menstrual cycle and how each woman reacts to it, can be attributed, in part, to the fact that hormones play a lot. Between our cravings of sugar and our temper more irritable, we wanted to deepen the different phases of the menstrual cycle, to better understand the process of the female reproductive system (and yes the vagina, let’s call it by name). As John Mayer would say, your body is a wonderland.
There are many variations from one woman to another, which could often be associated with the hormonal functioning of each. However, hormones are not the only ones responsible for our famous bleeding. Other factors such as stress, diet, illness or fatigue should not be discounted in the different ways of living your cycle (we will come back to this later).
First, the menstrual cycle is divided into two main phases:
-the pre-ovulatory phase
-the post-ovulatory phase
Between them is a hormonal peak that produces ovulation
Small course of anatomy 101:
-The FSH hormone helps the maturation of the egg.
-LH hormone stimulates ovulation.
During these periods, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, in the brain, stimulate the secretion of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteanizing hormone (LH). Thus, the brain sends the message to the ovaries to produce an egg.
To the surprise of many, the beginning of the menstrual cycle is defined by the first day of menstruation. Day 1 is characterized by the partial elimination of the endometrium, the inner wall of the uterus. If there is no fertilization, the endometrium degenerates through the menstrual fluid.
Based on a regular menstrual cycle of approximately 28 days, the pre-ovulatory phase would be approximately day 1-6. The body secretes a greater amount of estrogen during this period. At this point, we notice that the endometrium has thickened, the latter preparing to properly receive a fetus.
Continuation of Anatomy 101:
Cervical mucus is composed of secretions from the cervix. Even though it may seem disgusting to us, cervical mucus is another magical process of the woman’s body (God is a woman as Ariana Grande would say. This is not a post sponsored by Spotify, we promised you :P).
Another interesting element of the body, cervical mucus is more translucent and elastic, to facilitate the transport of sperm to the egg. During fertile days, the mucus favors the passage of spermatozoa by changing its composition, becoming more fluid.
Day 10 to 16
According to a regular menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs between the 12th and 16th days before the next menstruation. After being released by the ovary into the fallopian tube, the ovum survives for about 24 hours, waiting for fertilization. This is when progesterone takes over to maintain the thickness of the endometrium. It is also here that the cries of children become attractive and the soccer dads too.
If there is no fertilization, the female sex hormones decrease during the post-ovulatory phase. Indeed, the amount of progesterone and estrogen drops considerably (bye the idea of being a cool mom in 9 months). Following the collapse of ovarian hormones, the endometrial wall decomposes and menstruation begins a new cycle. It’s the return of the legendary day 1, ladies. The one that relieves us the fear of being pregnant during a big 2 minutes, but that disturbs us for the following days.
There are several factors that can influence the regularity and duration of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Although it is not always constant, it is relevant to better know one’s body and to be attentive to its different phases and signals. Many people sometimes wonder about the rages of sugar and the excesses of anger that characterize the unfamous PMS (premenstrual syndrome). It seems difficult to explain the unique cause, since each woman is different, her menstrual cycle being just as much. While some want to swallow a gallon of ice cream before their menses, for others, the rage to see the bottom of the bag of chips is felt during the menses.
In addition, often, we forget to inform women that the 28-day or 30-day menstrual cycle does not correspond to all women. Indeed, many of them will have longer cycles, sometimes shorter. It is important not to worry if your cycle differs from the baseline data. The only stable data is ovulation, which occurs on average 14 days before menstruation. So it’s wrong to say that ovulation happens on day 14. In a 28-day cycle it’s true, but in a longer or shorter cycle, the day will change. Remember, there are as many menstrual cycles as there are women. Say hello to the complexity of being able to completely understand each other, ladies. But let’s focus on a better understanding of our bodies.