Understanding Your Monthly Cycle in The Reproductive Years

Reproductive Years

The menstrual cycle is governed by an amazing series of biological processes. Even those who have experienced one for many years, may not completely understand exactly how the body performs each phase of a cycle, or what happens during each cycle!

This is neither uncommon nor is it any reason for embarrassment. Understanding your cycle can help you to prepare for any physical or emotional shifts or issues that come up throughout it – and be aware of any changes that occur.

Let us get back to the basics of your monthly cycle!

Menstrual Cycle

A typical menstrual cycle consists of unique phases, each of which serves the purpose of preparing the body for pregnancy.

Follicular Phase. Day 1 of your cycle starts when your period arrives. This is when the uterine lining from the previous cycle is shed and there is the release of menstrual fluid through the vagina that contains blood, cells from the lining of the uterus (endometrial cells), and mucus.

Hormonally, the hypothalamus prompts the pituitary gland to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This both increases estrogen levels as well as communicates to the ovaries to prepare an egg for ovulation.

Ovulation. At this point, mid-cycle, estrogen peaks, and an egg (or eggs in some cases) is released from the ovary, mid-cycle. This is the part of the cycle when a woman is fertile. Estrogen then drops shortly afterward.

Luteal Phase After ovulation, progesterone is released to prepare the body for a possible. It peaks and then drops if the egg released at ovulation is not fertilized, triggering a period, and restarting the cycle with the menstrual phase.

Hormone levels dictate these phases – as you can see in this diagram:

Menstrual Cycle

On average, a woman will menstruate over 450 times throughout the fertile “childbearing years” – which make up a significant phase of her life! While this cycle is a completely natural part of a woman’s physiology – certain factors can cause issues and uncomfortable symptoms.

Cycle irregularity.

An optimal cycle is roughly 28 days, with a natural variation of plus or minus 1-2 days. The irregular cycle length can happen for several varied reasons including polycystic ovarian syndrome, estrogen deficiency from malnutrition or over-training, and lack of ovulation. The altered cycle length can be spotting, bleeding more frequently, or skipping periods altogether. It is important to identify the cause of the irregular cycles and a daily tonic like our Chastetree Tincture or Capsules may be considered throughout the cycle to correct the issue.

Painful periods and heavy bleeding. Menstrual cramps are typically caused by inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins, with higher levels contributing to increased cramping and pain. Menstrual Tonic has herbs that can help reduce cramping & pain.

Heavy or flooding periods can be an inconvenience for many women, related to an existing hormonal imbalance or caused by a hormonal transition such as after pregnancy or in perimenopause. Regular Flow contains herbs that offer support in easing excessive menstrual flow.

Estrogen excess. Estrogen needs to be in a harmonious balance with progesterone. One of the main causes of “estrogen dominance” is an excess of estrogen. Excess estrogen can cause menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding, clots, painful breasts, bloating, and PMS. It can often be the cause behind large cysts and fibroids and can put one at risk for hormone-dependent cancers, including breast cancer.

Often, one or more of these can come up throughout life and can shift over time. Your periods in your twenties can be quite different than those in your late thirties and you, affected by life stressors, or changes after having children.

Herbal medicines and preparations have a long history of supporting women throughout their menstrual cycle. They offer both gentle and powerful support for women Experiencing everything from PMS to irregular cycles.

Each phase of life is purposeful and beautiful in its way. Our line of herbal women’s products is specifically formulated to help ease discomfort and support women’s bodies naturally at any age.

You can learn more about how herbs can help support women in any phase of life in our educational blogs.

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