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Cycle Health

Your cycle explained

We've all asked ourselves at one point or another; why do I need to have my period every month?

The truth is that the menstrual cycle is an impressive process, and learning more about it can be an empowering way to become more in tune with your body.

What are periods?

Every month from puberty to menopause, the body prepares itself for pregnancy by thickening the lining of the uterus. This allows a fertilized egg to implant, giving you the ability to get pregnant.

In short, if no egg is implanted, then the body releases the thickened tissue that it no longer needs. Along with blood, the tissue is expelled each month through the vagina as your period.

What is the menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle is a series of phases that you body undergoes each month. While the average menstrual cycle is around 28 days long, it's common for cycles to range from 21-40 days in length.

Your cycle can be broken down into a few main phases and each phase has a purpose, accompanied by certain observations and symptoms.

1. The Menstrual Phase (Days 1-7)

The first day that you experience bleeding is counted as the first day of a new menstrual cycle. Menstruation typically lasts 2 to 7 days, and can be accompanied by symptoms such as cramps, fatigue and sore breasts. Learn more about period pain here.

The first day of the menstrual phase also marks day one of the follicular phase (days 1-14). Throughout the follicular phase, your ovaries begin to prepare an egg to be released for ovulation.

2. Follicular Phase (Day 1-14)

From the start of your period (day 1) until ovulation, you're in the follicular phase. This phase is when the uterine lining thickens in preparation for a fertilized egg to be implanted, leading to pregnancy. During this phase, the ovaries ready the egg to be released into the uterus on day 14 (the day of ovulation) by increasing reproductive hormone production.

3. Ovulation (Mid Cycle)

Ovulation occurs when an egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube and commonly occurs around the middle of your cycle. If you have a 28 day cycle, this means around day 14. Signs of ovulation can include a higher sex drive or a pain in one side of the lower abdomen known as 'mittelschmerz'.

4. Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)

During the luteal phase, your body thickens the lining of uterus ready for a possible pregnancy. If you don't get pregnant after ovulation, then reproductive hormone levels begin to drop, which will eventually result in the shedding of the uterus lining.

During this phase PMS symptoms like bloating, irritability and mood swings can occur, and eventually this cycle ends with the start of your next period.

Your cycle made simple

Understand the phases of your cycle can help you manage symptoms, schedule plans according to your phase, or know when to have sex if you're trying for a baby. Cycles helps to visualize each phase of your cycle so you always know what to expect. Here's how you can feel in tune with your body and get started with tracking today.

Did you know?

  • The average woman will have 400-450 cycles during her lifetime.
  • Your voice might change depending on your cycle phase!
  • Period syncing with people you spend time with us a myth.

Want to learn more about your menstrual cycle? Follow @cycles.app.